Self-Affirmation Theory and the Science of Well-Being

Abstract

Social psychological self-affirmation research shows that value affirmations often boost adaptive functioning. Yet, such effects are under-recognized within the fields of well-being studies and positive psychology. This paper reviews self-affirmation theory and the principles by which self-affirmation is understood to facilitate resilient responses to self-threats. Next, it reviews research on the impact of self-affirmation on well-being, including feeling good and functioning well. The positive-activity model is employed to conceptualize self-affirmation as a well-being intervention and to underscore potential mediators and moderators of the relationship between self-affirmation and well-being. Future lines of investigation are outlined, including the role of self-affirmation within existing well-being interventions, the use of self-affirmation to enhance other well-being interventions, and the measurement of individual differences in trait self-affirmation in the prediction of well-being.

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Correspondence to Andrew J. Howell.

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Howell, A.J. Self-Affirmation Theory and the Science of Well-Being. J Happiness Stud 18, 293–311 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9713-5

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Keywords

  • Self-affirmation
  • Resilience
  • Well-being
  • Positive psychology