Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Does Task-Related Identified Regulation Moderate the Sociometer Effect? a Study of Performance Feedback, Perceived Inclusion, and State Self-Esteem

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Does Task-Related Identified Regulation Moderate the Sociometer Effect? a Study of Performance Feedback, Perceived Inclusion, and State Self-Esteem

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to understand the processes explaining the effects of private performance feedback (success vs. failure) on state self-esteem from the stance of sociometer theory and self-determination theory. We investigated whether or not the effect of private performance feedback on state self-esteem was mediated by perceived inclusion as a function of participants' level of task-related identified regulation (i.e., importance of the activity for oneself). Ninety participants were randomly assigned to one of the following three conditions: failure, success, or control. Our regression analyses based on both original and bootstrap samples indicate that perceived inclusion does not mediate the effect of feedback on state self-esteem for individuals high in task-related identified regulation. Such an effect only operates for individuals low in task-related identified regulation. In sum, our results show that the perceived inclusion process proposed by sociometer theory applies more when individuals find that the activity is less important for them (i.e., identified regulation).

Keywords: self-esteem, perceived inclusion, performance feedback, sociometer theory, self-determination theory.

It is commonly argued that self-esteem may be influenced by three sources of self-knowledge: reflected appraisal, social comparison, and self-perception. Studies focusing on self-perception mechanisms show that failure feedback has a negative effect on state self-esteem (i.e., self-esteem in a given situation) whereas success feedback has a positive one (e.g., Greenberg & Pyszczynski, 1985). Some researchers have interpreted such results from the perspective of the privately held standards hypothesis, in that people experience low state self-esteem because they have fallen short of their personal standards. However, recent theories have begun to challenge this hypothesis. Specifically, some theories proposed that self-esteem is not affected by our own internal standards but rather by standards imposed by others (Leary & Baumeister, 2000). In this study, we compare two different theories to understand which processes (internal vs. social standards) better explain the effect of performance feedback on state self-esteem, namely sociometer theory (ST; Leary & Baumeister) and self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985). SELF-ESTEEM AND SOCIAL INCLUSION CONCERNS: THE SOCIOMETER THEORY PERSPECTIVE

Advocates of sociometer theory conceptualize self-esteem as an affective state that evaluates the quality of individuals' relationships. Briefly, this theory posits that fluctuations of state self-esteem are contingent upon individuals' actual or anticipated level of social inclusion in a situation (Leary, 2004). In line with sociometer theory, Leary and Baumeister (2000) have argued that if state self-esteem is simply a self-evaluation mechanism of privately held standards, then a failure known about only by the individual (private) and a failure known about by others (public) should have the same detrimental effect on state self-esteem. Yet, Leary and Baumeister have argued that many studies have found that public failures have more deleterious effects on state self-esteem than private ones, a finding that provides greater support for their sociometer perspective than for the privately held standards hypothesis.

Even if public events have a stronger impact on state self-esteem than private events, it is important to keep in mind that private feedback has an effect on state self-esteem (e.g., Greenberg & Pyszczynski, 1985). In other words, the loss of self-esteem in a private situation may stem from the fact that the person has fallen short of his or her personal standards. Proponents of sociometer theory, however, disregard the privately held standards hypothesis and offer a "sociometer" explanation for this effect. First, they argue that the self-esteem monitor has an anticipatory function that reacts to the immediate risk of social exclusion and to the potential for devaluation in the future (Leary, 2004). …

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