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Self-Verification Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Self-Verification Theory

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

 

Description

People need to seek confirmation of their self-concept. This is true even if the self-view is negative and is in conflict with the desire to maintain a positive self-view. In this conflict, the self-verification wins.

We even will prefer to live with people who maintain our self-concept, which may explain why some people live with a partner who is abusive and unpleasant.

Research

White and Harkins found that white people would listen and consider messages given by black people more than if given by other white people. This is presumed to be due to the white people seeking to verify that they were not racist.

Example

Children who are told they are bad by their parents will often act badly to confirm the view, resulting in a downward spiral. The reverse is also possible.

So what?

Using it

Use confirmation of their self-concept as a way of developing trust or rewarding desired behavior.

Defending

Develop a self-concept that includes awareness of being persuaded.

See also

Cognitive Dissonance, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

References

Swann (1990), White and Harkins (1994)

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