Essays on The Role of Self-Affirmation Assignment

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The paper entitled 'The Role of Self-Affirmation' is a great example of a psychology assignment. The authors focused on the role of self-affirmation or the desperation for it in individuals’ reactions towards and perception of others. Accordingly, they experimentally put forward the following hypotheses. Firstly, self-affirmation by some other means would reduce the tendency of individuals to negatively evaluate a person from a stereotyped group (Fein & Spencer 1997, p. 6). Secondly, a threat to individuals’ self-image would result in an exacerbation of prejudiced evaluation of a stereotyped person with the intention of restoring self-esteem (Fein & Spencer 1997, p.

11). Finally, negative evaluation of the member from a stereotyped group helped in restoring threatened self-image (Fein & Spencer 1997, p. 17). The hypothesis was considered as an extension of the existing theories, such as frustration-aggression theory, social identity theory, and downward social-comparison theory, with some differences and similarities too. It concentrated clearly and differentially on the role of the self-concept on individuals’ perceptions of members, apparently from a stereotyped group and a nonstereotyped group.   The authors studied the participants’ evaluations of targets, whose ethnicity or sexual orientation was manipulated.

These variables along with the manipulation of the self-image of participants were used for the study to draw observations. The aim was to observe separately the participants’ evaluation of the target by altering their self-image either positively or negatively. In the first study, half of the participants were self-affirmed by a modified version of a procedure used by Steele and Liu (Fein & Spencer 1997, p. 4). They were given a list of values and asked to write about the values that they found important to them.

Later, both the self-affirmed and not affirmed participants were given the curriculum vitae of a candidate who was described as a candidate for an apparent job. However, half of the participants in both the groups were given a modified photograph of the candidate depicting her from a stereotyped minority group (Fein & Spencer 1997, p. 5). In short, the candidate was shown as a Jewish (a stereotyped minority) to half and an Italian (nonstereotyped minority) to the rest of the participants. In the second study, the self-image of half of the participants had been threatened by providing them with negative feedback for a purposely-created intelligence test.

Later, all the participants were asked to evaluate a person whose profile was portrayed as gay to some participants and as a straight to the remaining (Fein & Spencer 1997, p. 10). In the third study, self-image was manipulated for all the participants either positively or negatively. Thus, these variables were used to assess the participants’ ratings on the target using different scales and traits. The dependent variables in study 1 meant the opinions of the participants on the candidate based on her qualifications and personality. Each participant was provided with almost the same information on the candidate that contained her photo along with qualifications, experience, and extracurricular activities.

However, some details, for example, her name, one social activity, and photo features were modified so as to present her as a Jewish for some and as an Italian for some participants. Participants were asked to evaluate her credentials for the suitability of that job. They were given some traits to rate her personality on a 7-point scale (Fein & Spencer 1997, p.

The traits included both positive and negative. Also, participants had to mention how favorably they could consider the lady for the job by choosing one of four related statements provided to them.


Fein, S. & Spencer, S. J. 1997, ‘Prejudice as Self-Image Maintenance: Affirming the Self

Through Derogating Others’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 73, no. 1, pp. 31-44, pdf pp. 1-30, Available at:

Sutton, R. I. & Hargadon, A. 1996, ‘Brainstorming Groups in Context: Effectiveness in a

Product Design Firm’, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 685-718,

Available at: %3ABGICEI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-8.

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