The Effects of Self-Esteem and Ego Threat on Interpersonal Appraisals of Men and Women: A Naturalistic Study

Kathleen D. Vohs, Todd F. Heatherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

A naturalistic study examined the effects of self-esteem and threats to the self on interpersonal appraisals. Self-esteem scores, ego threat (operationalized as a substantial decrease in self-esteem across an average of 9 months), and their interaction were used to predict likability and personality perceptions of college men and women. The results revealed a curvilinear function explaining likability: Moderate to low self-esteem men and women were higher in likability when threatened, whereas high self-esteem men were seen as less likable when threatened. Personality ratings indicated that high self-esteem men and women who were threatened were rated highest on Antagonism (i.e., fake, arrogant, unfriendly, rude, and uncooperative). Mediational analyses revealed that differences in Antagonism statistically accounted for differences in likability. These patterns are interpreted with respect to gender and time in interpersonal perceptions as well as naturalistic versus laboratory investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1407-1420
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Volume29
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2003

Keywords

  • Ego threat
  • Gender
  • Interpersonal appraisals
  • Naturalistic investigations
  • Self-esteem

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