University of Sussex
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The moderating impact of self-esteem on self-affirmation effects

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posted on 2023-06-08, 20:28 authored by Camilla During
Self-affirmation has been successfully applied as a technique to promote open processing of health-risk information. However, much research in this area has explored the uniform effectiveness of self-affirmation interventions. The current thesis adds to existing literature by exploring whether different aspects of self-regard moderate self-affirmation effects. Study 1 (N = 328) investigated whether global self-esteem moderated the effectiveness of self-affirmation at promoting openness to a message highlighting the risks of insufficient exercise. Global self-esteem was found to be a significant moderator. Self -affirmed individuals with low global self-esteem reported more positive attitudes and intentions towards increasing their exercise behaviour, together with less message derogation; there was no effect of self-affirmation for those high in global self-esteem. Study 2 (N = 166) extended this research by exploring the moderating impact of a variety of self-regard aspects on self-affirmation effects. Contingent self-esteem emerged as a significant moderator. Thus self-affirmed individuals with low contingent self-esteem reported more positive attitudes and perceptions of control towards increasing their exercise behaviour; there was no evidence that self-affirmation promoted openness for those high in contingent self-esteem. Study 3 (N = 139) explored whether experimentally induced contingent self-esteem moderated the effectiveness of a self-affirmation manipulation at promoting open processing of a message detailing the risks of insufficient exercise. There was no evidence of this for any of the outcome variables. Lastly, study 4 (N = 125) investigated whether the moderating impact of global and/or contingent self-esteem on self-affirmation effects would extend to a message detailing the risks of alcohol consumption. Both self-esteem aspects moderated the impact of the self-affirmation manipulation on perceptions of behavioural control regarding reducing the amount of alcohol consumed. Moreover, self-affirmation was associated with lower levels of alcohol consumption at follow-up for those with low global self-esteem, and with higher alcohol consumption at follow-up for those with high global self-esteem.


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