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Why Nagging Just Doesn't Work Why Nagging Just Doesn't Work

By Anne Pawsey

Just in time for Valentines Day, a romantic couple have made a discovery which may smooth the course of true love.

Intrigued by why her husband always seemed to do exactly the opposite of what she wanted him to, Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, decided to investigate the phenomenon.

The tendency of people to go against what is asked of them, even if it would be beneficial for them to do it, is well known – especially amongst couples. The latest research found that this phenomenon is not necessarily a conscious one.

This could end up being such a great get-out clause for all nagged husbands who can now say that they didn’t chose not to help out with the housework but that their subconscious rebelled.

In order to reach their conclusions, Chartrand and her husband Gavan Fitzsimons asked volunteers to nominate one significant other who wants them to work hard and one who wants them to have fun.

The volunteers were then asked to solve anagrams on a computer. While they were puzzling over the brainteasers, the name of either the taskmaster or the party-animal was subliminally flashed on the screen.

The people who subliminally saw the name of their taskmaster were more reluctant to do the work.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tanya and Gavan can’t quite agree on what the conclusions of the study should be. The wife thinks that her husband should be more aware of his tendency not to work and overcome it, but he is more inclined than ever to say it’s not his fault.

Now wasn't that interesting.  Get more of the same on Anne's page.

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