Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychologists interrupt the miserable cycle of social insecurity

Date:
August 15, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Tom likes Susan but he fears she does not like him. Expecting to be rejected, he's cold toward Susan. And guess what? She snubs him back. His prophesy is self-fulfilled, his social insecurity reinforced. The miserable cycle continues.

Tom likes Susan but he fears she does not like him. Expecting to be rejected, he's cold toward Susan. And guess what? She snubs him back. His prophesy is self-fulfilled, his social insecurity reinforced. The miserable cycle continues. But what if Tom could be helped to set aside his fears and behave as warmly as he feels?

Happily, he can, says University of Victoria psychologist Danu Anthony Stinson. "Self-affirmation" -- a task in which people contemplate personal values that are central to their identity -- "seems to provide a psychological buffer for insecure people, allowing them to put aside social fears and anxieties and behave in more warm and inviting ways."

A new study by Stinson, along with Christine Logel, Steven Shepherd, and Mark Zanna of the University of Waterloo, demonstrates the real-life social benefits of self-affirmation -- and finds that the benefits last as long as two months. Their article will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In the experiment, 117 participants completed questionnaires assessing their feelings of "relational security" with friends, family, and current or potential romantic partners -- rating agreement with such statements as "My friends regard me as very important in their lives" and "I have the kind of qualities that many people desire in a romantic partner."

Next, participants ranked 11 values, such as intellect and creativity, in order of personal importance. The experimental group wrote a self-affirmation essay, in which they detailed the reasons why their top-ranked value was important to them, how it influenced their lives, and why it was central to their identity. The control group wrote about their ninth-ranked value and why it might matter to someone else. Participants then went about their lives, returning to the lab for follow-up sessions two times in the subsequent two months. At those sessions, participants again reported on their relational security. They also interacted with an experimenter, who rated their social tension, evidenced by their displays of agitation, anxiety, and appreciativeness.

The results: Initially insecure participants who completed the self-affirmation task grew more secure over the following two months and also behaved in more relaxed and positive ways with the experimenter.

Why do the effects last so long? Probably, says Stinson, it works this way: "You do this self-affirmation task, and then you walk out the door and smile at a stranger and the stranger smiles back." At home, if your partner is in a bad mood, you don't take it personally, and even try to cheer him up. Next time, he does the same for you. "It's a recursive process: 'I feel better, I behave better, I notice others behave better toward me, I feel better" -- and so on.

"Feeling like other people don't love or value you affects every aspect of wellbeing," with negative outcomes ranging from depression to frequent colds, says Stinson. So if self-affirmation can help people feel better about themselves and more at ease with others, the benefits could be far reaching. Says Stinson: "This research matters more than any I've ever done."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. A. Stinson, C. Logel, S. Shepherd, M. P. Zanna. Rewriting the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Social Rejection: Self-Affirmation Improves Relational Security and Social Behavior up to 2 Months Later. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611417725

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Psychologists interrupt the miserable cycle of social insecurity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815162348.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, August 15). Psychologists interrupt the miserable cycle of social insecurity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815162348.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Psychologists interrupt the miserable cycle of social insecurity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815162348.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins