The downside of feeling better: Self-regard repair harms performance
While threats to self-regard are unpleasant and aversive, such threats can also be motivating, leading people to change their views of themselves, and their behavior. The current studies show that when individuals experience a threat to self-regard through upward social comparison, learning about an opportunity to demonstrate competency can be affirming, leading to restored self-regard. However, self-regard is repaired only when the new task is in a domain different from the threatened domain (Study 1), and only when that new task is diagnostic of an important ability (Study 2). Study 3 examines the behavioral outcomes associated with threat, demonstrating the positive impact of threat on performance on these new tasks; ironically, when threat-the motivating force behind improved performance-is reduced, performance suffers.
Johnson, CS; Norton, MI; Nelson, LD; Stapel, D; Chartrand, TL
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