Social psychiatry

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 15–25 | Cite as

Antecedents of negative self attitudes: Membership group devaluation and defenselessness

  • Howard B. Kaplan


Specific hypotheses are derived from the general thesis that the experience of selfdevaluing circumstances in membership groups and the inability to effectively employ self-protective mechanisms (that is, a state of defenselessness) influence the subsequent development of negative self-attitudes. Data were gathered from junior high school students tested annually at three points in time. Of the 7, 618 students responding at the first testing (T1) 62 % responded at the second administration (T2) and 41 % responded to all three tests. It was hypothesized and observed that subjects who at T1 were high on factorially derived measures of perceived devaluation by peers, ... by family, ... by school, ... by membership groups in general, and on a measure of defenselessness/vulnerability (relative to those who were low on these measures) would manifest significantly higher subsequent levels of self-derogation at T2 and T3, and would manifest a significantly greater (”base-free”) increase in self-derogation from T1 – T2. After considering an alternative interpretation of the findings the data were interpreted as supporting the general thesis.


Public Health High School High School Student Subsequent Development Membership Group 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard B. Kaplan
    • 1
  1. 1.Baylor College of Medicine HoustonTexasUSA

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