So you think you've got problems : interpersonal influence on women with low appearance self-esteem within the context of self-affirmation
Ransom, Danielle C.
Master of Arts
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The influences of interpersonal interactions on psychological constructs have been studied extensively in the research literature. However, due to the inherent complexities involved in such interactions, a comprehensive understanding of such relationships is currently limited. Selfaffirmation theory provides a framework for understanding the way in which individuals cope with threats to the self in everyday life circumstances. Self-affirmation theory states that when individuals are exposed to a threat to the self, they are motivated to affirm another aspect of their self-worth in an attempt to maintain a sense of self-integrity. The current study investigated the relationship between self-affirmation and self-esteem during an ecologically valid interpersonal interaction. Emphasis was placed on exploring the utility of self-affirmation theory in understanding threats to appearance self-esteem. Ninety-eight female undergraduates participated in the current study during which they took part in a videotaped role play with an experimenter. During the role play, an appearance or academic-related topic was discussed, after which participants then viewed their role play. Results of the study provided partial support for self-affirmation theory; specifically, individuals who discussed an appearance-related topic and had low appearance self-esteem responded by investing their stake in an appearance domain of self-worth, contrary to the basic premise of self-affirmation theory. Individuals who discussed an academic-related topic also did not decrease stake in the academic domain of self-worth. However, individuals in both groups re-invested stake generally in other domains of self-esteem, as predicted by self-affirmation theory. Furthermore, exploratory analyses revealed that the study has implications for understanding the enduring quality of body image concerns as well as interventions designed to improve such concerns.