330 Self Affirmation & Self Control

Research by  Burson, Aleah., Crocker, Jennifer., & Mischkowski, Dominik. (2012)

Written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

When we feel excluded, this is a threat to our self-esteem. Self-Affirmation theory suggests that focusing on values helps us handle threats to our self-esteem. Which values help us feel better?

Psychology researchers examined 92 student participants who had either been “chosen” to be a partner, “excluded” (not chosen) or “accidentally excluded” (left alone to work) and placed them in one of three groups to write 10 minutes:

¨ the self-enhancement group wrote about values related to them personally- like, wealth, success, and influence,

¨ the thinking of others group wrote about values applicable to the greater good- like, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, and protecting the environment,

¨ the no value group wrote about their daily routine, not about their values.

Participants who wrote about values that enhance others had more self-control than the self-enhancement group writing about just their personal values, and much more than the no value group. We need not focus only on our own skills and success to effectively avoid threats and boost our self-esteem and self-control.

Remember to affirm yourself, affirm your values. Take action. Focus on the greater good related to benefiting others, the world, to best boost your own self-esteem!


Burson, A., Crocker, J., & Mischkowski, D. (2012). Two types of value-affirmation: Implications for self-control following social exclusionSocial Psychological and Personality Science, 3(4), 510-516.

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