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Maintaining One's Self-Image Vis-à-Vis Others: The Role of Self-Affirmation in the Social Evaluation of the Self

Abstract

Three studies examined how people maintain their self-images when they face threat to interpersonal aspects of the self. In Studies 1 and 2, we found evidence that low self-esteem people lower their estimates of their performance when they expect immediate feedback in order to protect themselves from the interpersonal threat inherent in such feedback, and that self-affirmation reduces this tendency among low self-esteem people. In Study 3, we found that when people are self-affirmed they are more likely to engage in upward social comparisons and less likely to engage in downward social comparisons. Together these findings suggest that people can cope with threats to interpersonal aspects of the self by affirming other important aspects of the self.

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Spencer, S.J., Fein, S. & Lomore, C.D. Maintaining One's Self-Image Vis-à-Vis Others: The Role of Self-Affirmation in the Social Evaluation of the Self. Motivation and Emotion 25, 41–65 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010659805978

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010659805978

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Comparison
  • Social Evaluation
  • Interpersonal Aspect
  • Downward Social Comparison