You're Free To Read This Post Or Ignore It Altogether!

Today, we'll take a look at the psychology of Reactance: the tendency to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do because you think your freedom of choice is being threatened.

I'll share a research study and tips on how to use Reactance to your advantage. But, don't believe a word I say. Test my ideas, or not.


If you remind people that you're not trying to control them, they'll more likely be influenced by what you ask for. A study was conducted in France to get people to complete a simple survey. Initially, the request was asked along the lines of, "we're conducting a questionnaire. It will take around 5-10 minutes to complete. Will you please do this for us?"

When they went in cold like that, 75% of people said yes, (which is a good result by the way) but, when they tweaked it to, "Hello, we have something to ask you, but you are of course free to accept or refuse," compliance shot up to 90%. All it took was telling people they were in control, and ultimately it was their choice.

Link to the video that talks about the research.


How could this translate to what you do at work and the people you need to influence, whether customers, partners, senior management or direct reports?

See examples: