Cognitive consequences of affirming the self

The relationship between self-affirmation and object construal

Cheryl J. Wakslak, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous research suggests that affirming one's important values is a powerful way of protecting one's general self integrity, allowing non-defensive processing of self-relevant information. In a series of four studies linking self-affirmation with construal level, we find that in addition to any self buffering effect, thinking about one's values and why they are important more generally shifts cognitive processing towards superordinate and structured thinking. Self-affirmation leads participants to perceive a greater degree of structure within their selves (Study 1), to increasingly identify actions in terms of their end-states (Study 2), to more strongly distinguish between primary and secondary object features (Study 3) and to perform better on tasks requiring abstract, structured thinking than those requiring detail-oriented, concrete thinking. Together, these findings suggest that thinking about important values helps individuals to structure information and focus on the big picture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-932
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

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Research
Values
self-study
integrity

Keywords

  • Abstraction
  • Construal level
  • Procedural priming
  • Self-affirmation
  • Self-structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Cognitive consequences of affirming the self : The relationship between self-affirmation and object construal. / Wakslak, Cheryl J.; Trope, Yaacov.

In: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 4, 07.2009, p. 927-932.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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