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Self-Discrepancy Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Self-Discrepancy Theory

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We are strongly motivated to maintain a sense of consistency among our various beliefs and self-perceptions. This causes problems as there are invariably differences between our aspirations for ourselves and our actual behaviors.

When the actual experience is somewhat less than we think we can achieve, we tend to feel a pattern of feelings such as sadness, dissatisfaction and other depressive senses. When experience is less that we feel we should achieve, we experience fear, worry and other anxieties.

As with other dissonance effects, we will act to reduce this dissonance by various means.

Example

When someone has a car accident that hurts someone else, the thought that they are to blame can make them feel very uncomfortable. 

So what?

Using it

Build tension by showing them how they are less than perfect. 

Defending

When you are feeling unhappy, ask why. Ask who could have prodded you into that state.

See also

Cognitive Dissonance, Consistency Theory

 

References

Higgins (1989), Higgins (1989a), Higgins, Klein and Strauman (1985), Higgins, Bond, Klein and Strauman (1986), Higgins, Strauman and Klein (1986)

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