The Boundaries of Minimization as a Technique for Improving Affect: Good for the Goose but not for the Gander?

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Research on minimization as a coping strategy suggests that it alleviates negative affect following threats. In contrast, research on minimization as a support‐giving strategy suggests that it does more harm than good. Does this mean that minimization works when it is self‐generated, but does not when it is offered by others? The present study examined the effect of self‐ and externally‐ generated minimizations on people with high and low self‐esteem following a self‐threat. Results suggest that externally‐generated minimizations do not alleviate negative affect when they occur before the recipient has had time to cope. Discussion centers around the implications of these findings for past research, as well as distinctions between how people with low versus high self‐esteem cope with negative events.

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Journal of Applied Social Psychology, v. 43, issue 8, p. 1717-1724