INFLUENCING SELF-ESTEEM AND RUMINATION BY SELF-ASCRIPTION OF POSITIVE TRAITS: AN ASYMMETRY BETWEEN MORALITY AND COMPETENCE
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As far as people organize information on the self in a coherent system, self-esteem may be changed from within by enhancing the salience of information already present in the self-system without getting new information from outside sources. The present theorizing based on a finding that retrieval of a generalization from semantic memory results in a heightened accessibility of episodic memories inconsistent with the generalization (Klein at al., 2002) and on the positive-negative asymmetry between the morality and competence domain (Reeder & Coovert, 1986). It was hypothesized that self-relevant thoughts following self-ascription of positive moral traits would lead to rumination and decreases in self-esteem while the opposite was expected for the self-ascription of positive traits related to competence. Results of 2 experiments supported these predictions and showed that changes in self-esteem resulting from self-ascription of positive traits were fully mediated by the intensity of rumination which followed the self-ascriptions.
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