What's Positive About Self-Verification?

Rebecca J. North and William B. Swann

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 What's Positive About Self-Verification?

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Self-verification theory assumes that people work to preserve their self-views by seeking to confirm them. As is the case with other processes advocated by positive psychology, self-verification is presumed to be a fundamentally adaptive process. Intrapsychically, self-verification strivings maintain psychological coherence, reduce anxiety, improve physical health, and may foster authenticity. Interpersonally, they encourage people to gravitate toward honest relationship partners, foster trust and intimacy in relationships, and ensure predictability in one's behavior, which further promotes trust. Although self-verification is adaptive overall, it may lead to the perpetuation of negative self-views. Nevertheless, identifying the underlying processes in self-verification may lend insight into how to raise self-esteem. It is posited that to help raise the self-esteem of someone with a negative self-view, one should first provide the person with self-verification and subsequently provide positive feedback that challenges the negative self-views. In these and other instances, understanding the self-verification process more deeply may also shed light on how to define and build happiness.

Keywords: acceptance; happiness; positivity; self-esteem; self-verification

Article.  7367 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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