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Multiple studies of Self-Verification Theory (e.g. Swann, 1983) have documented people's tendency to seek out information consistent with strongly held self-views, even when negative. An aspect of self-verification that has received less attention concerns the ways in which people with low self-esteem respond to ambivalence associated with receiving positive (i.e. self-disconfirming) feedback. Preliminary evidence suggests that individuals with low self-esteem who receive positive feedback will take the first opportunity to re-assert negative self-views, though the means by which people may re-assert negative self-views have not been well elaborated. The present study sought to determine whether participants with low self-esteem (relative to those with high self-esteem) who undergo a threat to their self-views would utilize a laboratory analogue of self-aggression to re-assert negative self-views. Though findings did not conform to expectations, a pattern of findings arose suggesting a self-esteem by rejection sensitivity interaction as a predictor of higher self-aggression. Theoretical implications for this and other secondary findings are discussed.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Psychology in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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