Adolescents were recruited to participate in an experiment to assess whether psychological reactance can provide a theoretical explanation for the forbidden fruit effect in the context of movie rating restrictions. In addition to examining if movie ratings served as antecedents to freedom threat perceptions, we investigated the role authoritarian parents had on freedom threat perception and reactance arousal. Results indicated that a movie with an NC-17 rating was perceived as a stronger freedom threat than R and PG-13 rated movies. Interestingly, adolescents who perceived their parents to be authoritarian were less likely to view movie ratings as a freedom threat. As expected, freedom threat perceptions were positively associated with psychological reactance. Reactance, in turn, was positively associated with both first and third person attitudes. The results are discussed with an emphasis on the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.
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