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Reminders of Money Elicit Feelings of Threat and Reactance in Response to Social Influence

Jia (Elke) Liu, Dirk Smeesters and Kathleen D. Vohs

Journal of Consumer Research, 2012, vol. 38, issue 6, 1030 - 1046

Abstract: When consumers are reminded of money, do they conform, shrug off, or react against others' attempts to influence them? Prior research on reminders of money suggests that either of the last two outcomes is probable. The current research proposed that the self-sufficient motivation induced by money reminders causes consumers to perceive social influences as threats to their autonomy. We predicted that consumers reminded of money would deviate from social influence, an effect that would be caused by feeling threatened. Across three experiments, money-primed participants behaved opposite to the source of influence, displaying reactance stemming from heightened feelings of threat. However, this reactance response was eliminated when money-primed participants were not personally invested in a decision; consequently, they showed indifference in the face of social influence. Hence, reminders of money boost the motivation to be autonomous and sensitize consumers to potential constraints on their personal decision-making freedom.

Date: 2012
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