Jen Borton, Barbara Singhakiat '17 and Leah Pranschke '17 presented their research in San Antonio.

Professor of Psychology Jen Borton along with seniors Barbara Singhakiat and Leah Pranschke recently presented a poster at the 18th annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in San Antonio.

The work was based on the group’s 2016 summer research.

Jackie Zingman ’18, who is away this semester with Hamilton’s Academic Year in Spain program, was also an author on the poster.

The experiment presented was designed to examine whether people with defensive self-esteem, relative to those with secure self-esteem, would show an impairment in working memory following ego threat.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either positive or negative feedback on an initial task and then completed a working memory task.

Contrary to the hypothesis, those with defensive self-esteem actually performed significantly better on the working memory task than did people with secure self-esteem, perhaps because they felt a desire to prove themselves that those with secure self-esteem did not.

Borton said the study was the first to show a potentially positive effect of ego threat on people with defensive self-esteem but needs to be replicated before firm conclusions can be drawn.

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