This post continues from my previous posts starting here, please read for context.
Few of us like being told what to do, but in a sense that is precisely what advertisers and other would-be persuaders do. You have probably experienced another individual who increasingly pressures you to get you to change your attitude on some issue. In both of these instances, you are on the receiving end of threats to your freedom to decide for yourself. As a result, you may experience a growing level of annoyance and resentment. The final outcome: Not only do you resist their persuasion attempts, but you may also actually lean over backwards to adopt views opposite to those the would-be persuader wants you to adopt. Such behaviour is an example of what social psychologists call reactance - a negative reaction to efforts by others to reduce our freedom by getting us to believe or do what they want (Brehm, 1966). Research indicates that in such situations, we really do often change our attitudes and behaviour in the opposite direction from what we are being urged to believe or do. Indeed, when we are feeling reactance, strong arguments in favour of attitude change can increase opposition compared to moderate or weak arguments (Fuegen & Brehm, 2004). The existence of reactance is one reason why hard-sell attempts at persuasion often fail. When individuals perceive such appeals as direct threats to their personal freedom (or their image of being an independent person), they are strongly motivated to resist. - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition, by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne)
This is another interesting example of the dichotomy of man: if we can recognise that someone is trying to persuade us then we will become defensive and maybe even aggressive; but if we don't realise that we are being persuaded, well, what we don't know won't irritate us (but it probably will hurt us).
Just the attempt at persuading us is enough - if we are not handled in just the right way then we may notice what's happening and EXPLODE or something. In our explosion of indignation we usually fail to asses the information at hand in an objective - or even in any - way. We most often will completely dismiss the message because the messenger has peeved us. Some call that human nature, unavoidable. It may be very nearly in our natures, but we don't have to be at the beck and call of our irrational emotional outbursts - it's not like we are separate from our emotions and that they operate on a wholly autonomous and independent fashion.
Imagine your life without drama, without experiences in which you are suddenly overwhelmed by some emotion and become completely incapable of making sense of anything. Imagine being able to be with friends and family and not having to deal with psychotic emotional meltdowns over completely miniscule or blown-up issues.
As soon as we sense that someone is trying to "force themselves" onto us in some way, we react. We feel threatened, as if this person can somehow take away who we are with their insinuating smirk. Bastard. Who cares what this person's intention was - They dared to try to change ME - which is them implying that I am not good enough. We then decide to be bold and DEFY them to the end. We shall never soften our resolve to deny these creeps their way. This is what they deserve.