Published January 13, 2015
I fear that when my children get to be my age, all human behavior will be excused by genetic studies that prove our actions are largely out of our control. Obesity? Must be in our genes. Chain smoker? Must be the fault of your parents. Serial adulterer? It's beyond your control as well. So don't worry!
Now guys, there is a new study that attempts to get you off the hook when it comes to conveniently not hearing what your wife asks or tells you to do. Ever heard of "reactance"? According to psychologists, that's the tendency to hear one thing and then do just the opposite. Here's an example. Your wife says to you, "Can you get the truck cleaned today?" You answer, "Sure, honey! No worries!"
What do you do? You take the truck four wheeling with your buddies.
It may have more to do with not wanting to do something we're asked to do than an outright sign of disrespect for our spouses. But still, there will probably be guys out there applauding such a study. They'll appreciate anything that gets them off the hook. We know we're in trouble when a psychology professor says of his own "reactance" problem: "reactance to significant others is so automatic that I can't possibly be expected to control it if I don't even know it's happening." I can't help myself!
The hopeful news is that the two researchers, a man and a woman, can't even agree on what the findings really mean. So guys, you might not be off the hook yet. Now go clean the truck!