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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1995 Apr;68(4):712-22.

The thrill of victory, the complexity of defeat: self-esteem and people's emotional reactions to success and failure.

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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Low self-esteem people are assumed to have more severe emotional reactions to failure than are high self-esteem people, but this assumption has not received consistent empirical support. In this article the authors report 2 investigations that found that self-esteem differences of this sort emerge for emotions that directly implicate the self (e.g., pride, humiliation) but not for emotions that do not directly implicate the self (e.g., happiness, unhappiness). Additional evidence suggested that this occurs, in part, because low self-esteem people overgeneralize the negative implications of failure. The relevance of these findings for understanding the nature and functions of self-esteem is considered.

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