Self-esteem and threats to self: Implications for self-construals and interpersonal perceptions

Kathleen D Vohs, Todd F. Heatherton

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131 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 4 studies, the authors examined interpersonal perceptions as a function of self-construals and ego threats for those with high and low self-esteem. Previous research (T. F. Heatherton & K. D. Vohs, 2000a) found that after threat, high self-esteem people were rated as less likable by an unacquainted dyad partner, whereas low self-esteem people were rated as more likable. Study 1 showed that after threat, high self-esteem people seek competency feedback, whereas low self-esteem people seek interpersonal feedback. Study 2 showed that high self-esteem people become more independent after threat, whereas low self-esteem people become more interdependent. Study 3 linked differences in independence versus interdependence to interpersonal evaluations. Study 4 found that differences in independent and interdependent self-construals statistically accounted for differences in likability and personality perceptions of high and low self-esteem people after threat. Thus, the combination of threat and self-esteem alters people's focus on different self-aspects, which consequently leads to different interpersonal appraisals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1118
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume81
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2001

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