The regulatory function of self-esteem: testing the epistemic and acceptance signaling systems.


Journal Article

The authors draw on sociometer theory (e.g., Leary, 2004) and self-verification theory (e.g., Swann, 1997) to propose an expanded model of the regulatory function of self-esteem. The model suggests that people not only possess an acceptance signaling system that indicates whether relational value is high or low but also possess an epistemic signaling system that indicates whether social feedback is consistent or inconsistent with chronic perceived relational value (i.e., global self-esteem). One correlational study and 5 experiments, with diverse operationalizations of social feedback, demonstrated that the epistemic signaling system responds to self-esteem consistent or inconsistent relational-value feedback with increases or deceases in epistemic certainty. Moreover, Studies 3-6 demonstrated that the acceptance and epistemic signaling systems respond uniquely to social feedback. Finally, Studies 5 and 6 provide evidence that the epistemic signaling system is part of a broader self-regulatory system: Self-esteem inconsistent feedback caused cognitive efforts to decrease the discrepancy between self-views and feedback and caused depleted self-regulatory capacity on a subsequent self-control task.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Stinson, DA; Logel, C; Holmes, JG; Wood, JV; Forest, AL; Gaucher, D; Fitzsimons, GM; Kath, J

Published Date

  • December 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 99 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 993 - 1013

PubMed ID

  • 20822286

Pubmed Central ID

  • 20822286

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1315

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0020310


  • eng