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Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Responses to Negative Feedback

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Rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT; Ellis, 1995) contends that esteeming oneself—favorably or unfavorably—is illogical (implying an objective basis for evaluating global worth) and counterproductive (making one prone to depression in the wake of setbacks, anxiety otherwise). A healthier outlook requires unconditional self-acceptance (USA). We evaluated predictions regarding USA in a nonclinical university student sample. Consistent with REBT, participants scoring high on a USA questionnaire, controlling for self-esteem level, reported being low in proneness to depression and in self-esteem lability. They also were more objective in evaluating their performance on a public speaking task and were less apt to denigrate people who provided negative evaluations of their speeches. Predictions regarding impression management, willingness to try another speech, and mood or state self-esteem reactivity to feedback were not supported. Discussion focused on implications for research on USA as well as applied implications for therapy or prevention programs.

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Chamberlain, J.M., Haaga, D.A.F. Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Responses to Negative Feedback. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 19, 177–189 (2001).

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