Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henningsen, David D.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication


This study applies theory of psychological reactance to instructions to disregard (ITD). When inadmissible testimony is made in front of jurors, a judge may issue an ITD that orders jurors to not consider the inadmissible evidence when making their verdicts. The theory of psychological reactance proposes that when a person’s choices are limited or their freedom is threatened, there will be a resulting attempt to regain or prioritize their freedom. Using a jury transcript study, the experiment has both a control condition including the evidence but without an ITD and a condition where the ITD is included. Results showed that participants in the condition with an ITD showed more negative cognitions than those in the control group as predicted. However, differences in attitudes toward the plaintiff and anger did not emerge. Overall, the predictions that ITDs produce reactance produced only partial support. Limitations and directions for future research are considered.


32 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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Included in

Communication Commons