The intrinsic self and defensiveness: Evidence that activating the intrinsic self reduces self-handicapping and conformity

Jamie Arndt, Jeff Schimel, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two studies were conducted to assess the hypothesis that shifting individuals' base of self-esteem to more stable, intrinsic self-attributes would reduce psychological defensiveness in the form of self-handicapping attributions and conformity. In Study 1, participants visualized an individual who liked them contingently or noncontingently, or who was neutral toward them, and then made attributions for an impending test performance. Participants who visualized the noncontingently accepting other made fewer self-handicapping attributions. In Study 2, participants wrote about an intrinsic self-attribute, an achievement, or a neutral event and then evaluated several abstract art paintings while knowing how other participants purportedly rated the paintings. Participants for whom the intrinsic self was primed conformed less to others' judgments relative to achievement self-primed and control participants. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for understanding the connection between self-esteem and defensiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-683
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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