Student Summer Scholars
 

Abstract

Self-affirmation theory proposes that people’s beliefs and behaviors are motivated by a desire to view the self as moral, adaptive, and capable (Aronson, Cohen, & Nail, 1999; Steele, 1988). Researchers have found that allowing one to affirm the self-concept decreases defensiveness toward threatening health information including greater acceptance of the information and greater intentions to change a health behavior. However, few studies have examined possible reasons self-affirmation has these effects. In this study, college students were randomly assigned to either a self-affirmed condition in which they wrote an essay about their most important personal value or a non-affirmed condition in which they wrote about a non-personal value. Participants then responded to a hypothetical health scenario and completed coping, personality and other individual difference measures. We examined effects of the self-affirmation on coping responses and motivation, as well as whether personality moderated these responses.

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