A Multi-Wave Test of Self-Affirmation Versus Emotionally Expressive Writing
Testing self-affirmation writing against well-established alternatives is an important step in validating self-affirmation writing as an empirically informed clinical exercise. Therefore, this multi-wave study examined the effects of two theoretically distinct writing exercises: self-affirmation and emotionally expressive writing. It was hypothesized that, compared to emotionally expressive writing, self-affirmation writing would elicit higher positive mood and lower negative mood while decreasing psychological distress over time. After completing pretest measures of distress, 152 undergraduates were randomly assigned to a self-affirmation or emotionally expressive writing task. Participants completed the assigned writing intervention three times: at Session 1, 1 week later at Session 2, and 1 week after that at Session 3. Mood and distress were assessed across four points in time: immediately after the first writing task (Session 1), 1 week later after the second writing task (Session 2), after the third writing task (Session 3), and 1 week following Session 3 (Session 4). A growth curve indicated that at Session 2, those completing self-affirmation writing reported lower distress than those completing emotionally expressive writing, and this difference did not significantly increase or decrease in subsequent sessions. The difference at Session 2 was more pronounced for those reporting lower distress than for those reporting higher distress.
Lannin, Daniel G.; Vogel, David L.; Kahn, Jeffrey H.; Brenner, Rachel E.; and Heath, Patrick J., "A Multi-Wave Test of Self-Affirmation Versus Emotionally Expressive Writing" (2018). Faculty Publications – Psychology. 77.