Noncompliance and dissent with cell phone policies: a psychological reactance theoretical perspective

Nicholas T. Tatum, Michele K. Olson, T. K. Frey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study employed Brehm’s psychological reactance theory (PRT) to understand why students do or do not choose to follow classroom cell phone policies. Results (N = 750) from this study demonstrate that when instructors discourage cell phone use for noninstructional reasons, students feel their autonomy has been threatened. These perceptions of freedom threat ultimately induce a reactance process, leading sequentially to negative cognitions and anger, which predict policy noncompliance. This reactance process is also predictive of students’ enactment of other uncivil classroom behaviors (i.e., instructional dissent). Theoretical implications are discussed, and practical suggestions are given for instructors hoping to increase cell phone policy compliance and limit reactance among students in the classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-244
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 National Communication Association.


  • cell phones
  • classroom management
  • mobile technology
  • psychological reactance theory
  • technology policies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics


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