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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Nov;57(5):782-91.

Agreeable fancy or disagreeable truth? Reconciling self-enhancement and self-verification.

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Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin 78712.


Three studies asked why people sometimes seek positive feedback (self-enhance) and sometimes seek subjectively accurate feedback (self-verify). Consistent with self-enhancement theory, people with low self-esteem as well as those with high self-esteem indicated that they preferred feedback pertaining to their positive rather than negative self-views. Consistent with self-verification theory, the very people who sought favorable feedback pertaining to their positive self-conceptions sought unfavorable feedback pertaining to their negative self-views, regardless of their level of global self-esteem. Apparently, although all people prefer to seek feedback regarding their positive self-views, when they seek feedback regarding their negative self-views, they seek unfavorable feedback. Whether people self-enhance or self-verify thus seems to be determined by the positivity of the relevant self-conceptions rather than their level of self-esteem or the type of person they are.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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