Why Do People Need Self-Esteem? Converging Evidence That Self-Esteem Serves an Anxiety-Buffering Function

Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, Tom Pyszczynski, Abram Rosenblatt, John Burling, Deborah Lyon, Linda Simon, Elizabeth Pinel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

449 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three studies were conducted to assess the proposition that self-esteem serves an anxiety-buffering function. In Study 1, it was hypothesized that raising self-esteem would reduce anxiety in response to vivid images of death. In support of this hypothesis, Ss who received positive personality feedback reported less anxiety in response to a video about death than did neutral feedback Ss. In Studies 2 and 3, it was hypothesized that increasing self-esteem would reduce anxiety among individuals anticipating painful shock. Consistent with this hypothesis, both success and positive personality feedback reduced Ss' physiological arousal in response to subsequent threat of shock. Thus, converging evidence of an anxiety-buffering function of self-esteem was obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume63
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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