The concept of ego threat in social and personality psychology: is ego threat a viable scientific construct?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Although widely invoked as an explanation for psychological phenomena, ego threat has been conceptualized and induced in a variety of ways. Most contemporary research conceptualizes ego threat as a threat to a person's self-image or self-esteem, but experimental operationalizations of ego threat usually confound threats to self-esteem with threats to public image or decreased control over negative events, leading to an inability to distinguish the effects of threats to people's personal egos from threats to public image or threats to feelings of control. This article reviews research on ego threat, discusses experimental manipulations that confound ego threat with other processes, and makes recommendations regarding the use of ego threat as a construct in personality and social psychology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Leary, MR; Terry, ML; Batts Allen, A; Tate, EB

Published Date

  • August 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 151 - 164

PubMed ID

  • 19648508

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-7957

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1088-8683

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1088868309342595


  • eng