From Dissonance To Disidentification: Selectivity in the Self-Affirmation Process

Joshua Aronson, Hart Blanton, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Two studies examined the relationship between the content of a self-threat and the attractiveness of available self-affirmations (C. M. Steele, 1988). After self-threat was induced by means of a cognitive dissonance procedure, participants' choices for affirmations were examined in order to explore whether the attractiveness of a given affirmation depends on its relevance to the threatened domain of the self-concept. The authors hypothesized that when faced with a threat to a specific self-conception or standard, individuals may forego affirmations within the threatened self-concept domain in favor of affirmations of unrelated, compensatory domains. Both studies supported this hypothesis and further suggested that such selective self-affirmation can lead individuals to modify their self-concepts by identifying with self-aspects that justify dissonant behavior and by disidentifying with the standards that such behavior violates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-996
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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