Contingent self-worth moderates the relationship between self-esteem and heart rate variability
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
Controversy in self-esteem research
Heart rate variability
Heart rate variability and self-esteem research
MetadataShow full item record
Criticisms in the field of self-esteem research have led to new methods for conceptualizing and measuring the construct. One such method proposed by Crocker and Wolfe (2001) is that of contingent self-worth (CSW). Studies of heart rate variability (HRV) may also provide a novel biological method by which to examine an individual's self-esteem (Martens et al., 2008). The present study sought to determine whether self-esteem and CSW could predict HRV and affective reactivity. Female participants (N = 96) completed a series of questionnaires and then participated in a therapy role-play and video review while their HRV was recorded. Following the experimental tasks participants also completed questionnaires pertaining to their affective reaction to the role-play and video review. A series of moderated multiple regressions were conducted to test whether CSW would moderate any relationship between self-esteem and HRV or affective reactivity. Some support was found for this proposal, with appearance CSW moderating the effect of appearance self-esteem upon HRV reactivity during role-play, but only when the topic was appearance related. Participants who placed a higher importance on appearance as a source of their self-worth demonstrated greater HRV reactivity to the appearance role-play when they also had low appearance self-esteem. In regards to affective reactivity, for positive affect (PA) during both role-play and video review it was found that participants with higher appearance CSW were more likely to retrospectively report higher PA if they also had high appearance self-esteem. These findings support the value of examining contingencies of self-worth when investigating the interplay between self-esteem and parasympathetic response to a social challenge.