The Role of Self-affirmation and Self-expansion on State Self-esteem

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The Ohio State University

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There is a wide variety of research that has examined the extent to which humans use others for self-enhancement. Previous work has shown that people can expand their sense of self by using close others to boost self-esteem. Additionally, self-affirmation theory is a large part of the human psychological immune system, holding the power to boost the self and potentially protect self-esteem. Recent research has found that when facing negative feedback, people have a tendency to inflate their views of significant others in terms of positive characteristics, possibly to make themselves feel better (Brown & Han, 2012). The present research involves a 2 (self-affirmation) x 2 (success vs. failure feedback) x 2 (friend vs. college student rating) factorial design. A significant three-way interaction revealed effects for state self-esteem, but not for partner ratings or task performance. Non-self-affirming participants who received failure feedback had higher self-esteem ratings versus non-self-affirming participants who received failure feedback and rated a college student.


Ohio State Mansfield Research Frenzy Presentation
Ohio State Denman Forum Presentation
American Psychological Society National Convention Presentation


Self-expansion, Social Comparison, Self-extension, Self-esteem, Self-affirmation