Associate Professor of Psychology Jennifer Borton presented a poster at the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology held in San Antonio on Jan. 29-30. Her poster was titled “Level and Contingency of Self-Esteem Predict Thought Suppression, Rumination, and Self-Reflection.”
According to the abstract: “Individuals with contingent self-esteem feel good about themselves only when they achieve certain outcomes or match a specific evaluative standard (Kernis, 2003). Such individuals are threatened by negative information about the self, and have been shown to suppress negative thoughts about their performance on a lab task (Borton et al., in press). The goal of the current study was to explore whether such individuals would be (1) more likely to suppress thoughts in general, and (2) less likely to engage in reflective self-focus. Somewhat paradoxically, I was also interested in the extent to which individuals with contingent self-esteem would engage in rumination.
“Four hundred eighteen Hamilton College undergraduates completed the Self-Attributes Questionnaire (Pelham & Swann, 1989) and the Contingent Self-Esteem Scale (Kernis & Goldman, 2006), as well as the White Bear Suppression Inventory (Wegner & Zanakos, 1994) and the Reflection-Rumination Questionnaire (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999). Results indicated that individuals with highly contingent self-esteem were more prone to experiencing, suppressing, and ruminating about intrusive thoughts than were individuals with less contingent self-esteem. In addition, relative to those with contingent self-esteem (whether high or low), individuals with high, less contingent self-esteem were most likely to engage in self-reflection. The pattern of suppression, rumination, and a lack of self-reflection among those with contingent self-esteem may make them particularly vulnerable to depression.”