The Romeo and Juliet Effect

Everyone knows about Romeo and Juliet, the tragic story of young lovers whose families hated each other. But the families’ hatred had no adverse effect on the “star-crossed” lovers’ passion for each other. In fact, it might have contributed to Romeo and Juliet’s passion.

The Romeo and Juliet effect is based on the theory of Psychological reactance, which is the powerful urge to react against restrictions placed on our freedoms. These restrictions can come from your family, especially parents, and from society in general. If you really want to get something accomplished, forbid someone else to do it! That was a joke, but it illustrates this concept rather well.

Since Romeo and Juliet were forbidden to see each other, it made them want to see each other even more. In romantic terms, if your parents hate your date, your date becomes all the more attractive to you. As a psychology major, I’ve fallen prey to the Romeo and Juliet Effect even though I’ve known about it for quite some time. I’m not saying that the only reason I like someone is because my parents don’t, but it does play some small part, however unconscious at the time. That’s the thing with psychology, knowing about something doesn’t protect you from it’s influence!

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