Self-Esteem Maintenance Processes: Why Low Self-Esteem May be Resistant to Change

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self-esteem, positive feedback, negative feedback, self-worth, source credibility

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If most people desire to maximize feelings of self-worth, how do we explain the persistence of low self-esteem? Results from four studies suggest that people with low self-esteem may be less likely to accept positive feedback from themselves than from an outside source but equally likely to accept negative feedback from the self and an outsider. When the self was the source of positive feedback, people high, but not low, in self-esteem incorporated the feedback into their self-views; in contrast, when positive feedback came from a knowledgeable external source, both high and low self-esteem people accepted it. Finally, when self-generated feedback was negative, participants low in self-esteem accepted it. The authors discuss how these findings shed light on the maintenance of low self-esteem.

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 29, issue 7, p. 920- 933