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-  2019 

“Don’t Drink Too Much!” Reactance Among Young Men Following Health-Related Social Control

DOI: 10.1177/1557988319825921

Keywords: Reactance, health-related suggestion, alcohol consumption, young men, social control, experimental study

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This study investigated conditions under which young men responded with reactance to the suggestion to reduce their alcohol consumption. In an experimental study, 84 young men (university students, mean age: 24 years) listened to a recorded telephone call and were asked to imagine that they themselves were the recipients of this call. In this call, either a girlfriend or a male friend suggested that the recipient of the call should reduce his alcohol intake that evening. In one condition, the suggestion was highly restrictive; in the other condition, the suggestion was framed in a nonrestrictive way. Perceived threat, negative thoughts, and feelings of anger after listening to the call were assessed. Further outcome variables were intention and perceived probability of complying with the suggestion. Participants felt more anger after hearing the highly restrictive suggestion and more threatened by the suggestion made by the girlfriend. Interaction effects emerged. Participants reported more negative thoughts and lower intention and perceived probability to comply when a highly restrictive suggestion was made by the girlfriend. The male friend’s highly restrictive suggestion resulted in a perceived probability of complying (54%) that was similar to the probability of the girlfriend’s nonrestrictive suggestion (55%). Women’s efforts to reduce their male partners’ alcohol consumption can result in boomerang effects. Male peers might be more effective in motivating other men to behave in a healthier way. These results support recent findings with regard to the potential of peer positive social control


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