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Don't you say it that way! Experimental evidence that controlling voices elicit defiance

Weinstein, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2200-6617, Vansteenkiste, M. and Paulmann, S. (2020) Don't you say it that way! Experimental evidence that controlling voices elicit defiance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 88. 103949. ISSN 0022-1031

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2019.103949

Abstract/Summary

Motivational messages can be communicated in a controlling or pressuring way, or alternatively, speakers can support listeners' sense of choice and self-initiation. Despite this being a key aspect of daily life, little is known about the outcomes of different motivational tones on listeners' experiences. In three experiments, we tested the extent to which a controlling – rather than an autonomy-supportive – tone of voice elicited defiance, a tense desire to do the opposite of what motivators are asking and hoping for. Study 1 found evidence that motivational speakers using a controlling tone were perceived as more pressuring than supportive and, through these per- ceptions, they elicited defiant reactions from listeners. Study 2 replicated this effect and identified a perceived controlling style to be the primary predictor of defiance, even when accounting for the reduced warmth and increased power communicated by speakers using controlling tone of voice. In a final study, we observed that both semantics (i.e., words) and prosody (i.e., tone of voice) independently communicate controlling versus autonomy-supportive messages and, through doing so, elicit defiant reactions. Yet, when used in combination – likely the most typical way that motivators communicate control – they elicited the most defiance from listeners. Findings are discussed in the context of developmental, organizational, and social literatures which are con- cerned with how listeners can be best motivated to act.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Development
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Social
ID Code:93648
Publisher:Elsevier

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