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Should you care what your parents think?

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In 1972, psychologists at the University of Colorado surveyed 140 couples to determine whether a relationship facing parental disapproval was more likely to strengthen or crumble under the pressure. Can long-term success of a romantic relationship be predicted by the perceived approval or disapproval of the couple’s friends and family? Dig into the trend known as the Romeo and Juliet Effect.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator H. Colleen Sinclair
  • Director Maryna Buchynska, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Vlad Molodan, Alexandra Bolotova
  • Art Director Maryna Buchynska
  • Composer Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • Expert Consultant Diane Felmlee
Additional Resources for you to Explore
If you've ever heard people colloquially discuss using "reverse psychology"—the manipulative technique of advocating for the opposite of what you actually want someone else to do—then you're already moderately familiar with the concept of reactance theory. Reactance theory was first proposed in a 1966 paper by Jack W. Brehm, whose work stemmed from studies on cognitive dissonance theory. Both theories examine how discrepancies between attitudes and behaviors are resolved. Reactance theory, however, posits that individuals will be motivated to protect their autonomy when they feel it is being threatened. Hence the trope of the rebellious teenager who will do the very opposite of what their parent directs them to do, and the need to enlist reverse psychology to effect a desired action.  

Reactance has been observed in many arenas, from adolescent behavior, to public health, to romantic relationships, where the phenomenon has been termed the "Romeo and Juliet effect." And yet, follow-up studies of these reactant, rebellious lovers have shown that increases in approval of romantic partners from close friends and family is in fact correlated with greater love and commitment in those relationships. Psychologists are still untangling the ways in which our social spheres interact with our reactant impulses. However, if you would like some helpful tips on how to counter reactance in your daily communications, take a look at this short video on Persuasion Psychology.      

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator H. Colleen Sinclair
  • Director Maryna Buchynska, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Vlad Molodan, Alexandra Bolotova
  • Art Director Maryna Buchynska
  • Composer Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • Expert Consultant Diane Felmlee

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