Automatic activation of self-discrepancies and emotional syndromes: when cognitive structures influence affect.


Journal Article

Different types of self-discrepancies are associated with different negative affects. Two studies were conducted to determine whether automatic activation of specific actual-self: self-guide mismatches, as cognitive structures, would induce distinct emotional states. Subjects possessing significant discrepancies between their actual self and either their ideal self-guide (attributes that someone wishes or hopes the person would possess) or their ought self-guide (attributes that someone believes the person has the duty or obligation to possess) responded verbally to an audiotape while "thinking about other people." Study 1 involved two kinds of priming attributes: self-relevant and yoked (another subject's self-relevant attributes). Activating mismatches induced momentary syndromes of dejection (sadness, decreased arousal) in ideal-discrepant subjects but induced agitation (nervousness, increased arousal) in ought-discrepant subjects. In Study 2, subjects were randomized to either self-relevant/nondiscrepant, self-discrepant, or yoked priming. The findings of Study 1 were replicated for the self-discrepant priming condition alone. Results indicate that (a) mismatches constitute cognitive structures and (b) automatic activation of different mismatches via contextual priming induces distinct types of emotional discomfort.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Strauman, TJ; Higgins, ET

Published Date

  • December 1987

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 53 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1004 - 1014

PubMed ID

  • 3694448

Pubmed Central ID

  • 3694448

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1315

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037//0022-3514.53.6.1004


  • eng