Reactance Towards Automated Technology of the 21st Century

Sean Michael Noble


The current study hypothesized, in accordance with previous research2,3, that students confronted with a threat to their chosen career path (automated labor) would experience reactance, which would manifest as students being more motivated and more satisfied with their projected careers in comparison to students in a low threat-to-freedom condition. Additionally, this effect would be heightened in students naturally prone to reactance. Participants (N = 130) read one of two vignettes which used differentiated statistics (52% of experts believe automated labor will create jobs vs. 48% of experts believe automated labor will displace jobs) and amounts of threatening language (must consider vs. should consider) to describe automated labor. Participants then answered four scales designed to measure various forms of reactance and reactance response in relation to automated labor. The scales measured participants’ perceived threat of automated labor11 (α = .92), motivation to do well in their future career14 (α = .91), satisfaction with career path4,15 and trait reactance8 (α = .84). An independent t-test was conducted on the perceived threat, motivation, and satisfaction scales. Contrary to the hypothesis, the results of the t-tests indicated that exposure to the high threat-to-freedom the motivation (t (128) = -0.91), satisfaction (t (128) = -1.19), and perceived threat (t (128) = -0.16), condition resulted in similar effects as the low threat-to-freedom condition. Additionally, bivariate correlational analyses indicated that trait reactance and motivation (r (128) = -.02) or satisfaction with one’s future career (r (128) = -.05) were not correlated. Further research should be conducted as automated labor becomes more prevalent in the workforce, to determine future changes in this relationship.


Reactance, Automation, Motivation

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