Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Akira Miyake Ph.D

Abstract

The current study tested: the interaction between self-enhancing behavior following negative feedback and individual differences variables; the effects of self-enhancement on emotion regulation; and how this defensive response can be decreased using a writing-based intervention called self-affirmation. To test these ideas, we randomly assigned people to self-affirmation or control conditions, giving them all negative feedback on an IQ test, and then measuring their level of self-enhancing behavior. We measured mood at three points of time in the study: at the beginning, after the negative feedback, and after their opportunity to self-enhance. In our study, we discovered that although people with high WMC bias less and those with low WMC bias more as their negative affect increases, this interaction is eliminated by the act of selfaffirmation. In other words, self-affirmation counteracts the ego threat caused by the feedback. Furthermore, when those with high WMC do choose to bias, they experience greater success at emotion regulation as a result of their increased cognitive capacity.

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