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The Boomerang Effect — Why you always get the opposite result from an intended outcome

by Deladem Kumordzie 8 months ago in how to
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Have you ever found yourself trying so hard to control the outcome of something, but find yourself doing or becoming the very thing you decided to avoid?

It could be a particular reaction you might want from addressing a situation, it might be a character flaw you’ve spent your whole life trying to correct or it might just be a very simple case of telling your Kid time and time again not to do something but they end up doing the very thing you do not like. Well, it has terminology and it is called the Boomerang Effect.

Most people want to be happy. It is a desire that transcends age, culture, geographical location, political belief, religion, and life experience. And it is not an irrational desire.

On one of the most poignant scenes in season two of NBC’s This Is Us is when Kevin — a former high school star quarterback and homecoming king turned failing actor struggling with addiction — returns to his hometown to receive an honored alumni award. In his acceptance speech, Kevin begins to thank his coach and parents, but, as he considers the effort these mentors invested in him, Kevin realizes just how far he has fallen and how disgraceful his behavior has been. Envisioning his deceased father on stage with him, Kevin realizes he is far from the man his father dreamed he would become. He ultimately delivers a depressing monologue about his own lack of honor & eventually, the episode becomes a catalyst for some dangerous, rock-bottom behavior.

How and why could a genuine expression of gratitude transform into something so unpleasant? Why do seemingly positive activities have negative consequences?

The boomerang effect happens when you deliver a message hoping to produce a certain response or reaction, but the reaction turns out to be the opposite of what you had hoped it would be. This is related to “the theory of psychological reactance (that people act to protect their sense of freedom) that is supported by experiments showing that attempts to restrict a person’s freedom often produce an anti-conformity “boomerang effect” (Brehm, S., & Brehm, J.W. (1981). Psychological reactance: a theory of freedom and control. New York: Academic Press.)

Some of it stems from a natural desire not to conform. For those who have a stronger natural inclination to assert their autonomy and independence, doing the opposite of what you are asked or told is a way to communicate that you are in control. The boomerang effect is also sometimes called the psychological reactance theory.

Research suggests this occurs because when a person feels their freedom of choice is being infringed upon so they sometimes react by going to the opposite stance.

What is the Law of the Boomerang?

According to the law of the boomerang, the harder and faster you throw something, the faster and more violently it comes back to hit you.

An example can be seen in public messages. If a message is too strong or forceful then it is not as effective. For example, if an ad sign is too forceful and says “You must respect the law” people are more likely to be inimical about the situation and present an indifferent stance to law enforcers. But with a more humane approach, while showing the benefits of respecting the law, people will be more willing to do the right thing. For some people, While their intention may be pure, they may find themselves in this situation which tends to be more of a cycle that makes their lives a bit difficult when dealing with others. They may always get the opposite result and may want to prevent it from happening or at least gain some control of the situation.

How to avoid the Boomerang Effect

  • Understand what you are asking: this means understanding your message from the perspective of the audience. And then, it’s creating a targeted and effective message based on that understanding.
  • Soften your delivery when the content is tough: If the content is already tough, the delivery needs to be softer.
    • Don’t oversell or overcommunicate. You might think that more communication, more messages, and a longer presentation will help you persuade the audience and assure our intended response. Research shows that’s not the case.

    Becoming better communicators

    We can all be better communicators and presenters and humans when we remember:

    • We don’t like messages that remind us we aren’t in control
    • We don’t like to feel pressure to conform.
    • We need tough messages to be delivered calmly.
    • We like to have choices.
    • We don’t want to be bombarded with communication.

    I hope this article has been helpful! Follow me for more exciting content

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    About the author

    Deladem Kumordzie

    Challenging everything I know, unlearning & relearning⚡️ A rare breed of business and technology. Business Planning || Branding || Front End developer || Graphics || Entrepreneur || Interested in Venture Studios

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