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Problem or Major Purpose: The present study examines the association among self-affirmation, hope, and self-esteem. Self-affirmation is a process that involves compensating for threatened domains of one’s self-worth (e.g., feeling unintelligent after failing a test) by being reminded of positive aspects of one’s identity that are not threatened (e.g., feeling positive about being a loving sister); the tendency to self-affirm has been linked to decreased perceptions of threat, and thus may increase faith in one’s ability to achieve positive outcomes (i.e., hope) and ultimately bolster self-esteem (Sherman & Cohen, 2006; Tesser, 2000). Given that hope has been linked to accomplishing goals (Snyder, 1995) and self-esteem (Frieson & Frieson, 1997), it is possible that hope may be a critical determinant of self-esteem maintenance. The present study examined whether the link between self-affirmation and self-esteem was due to associations with greater hope. Specifically, we predicted a mediation effect wherein self-affirmation would predict greater hope, which in turn would predict greater self-esteem.Procedure: During fall 2019, 184 youth aged 14-21, participating in the Champaign Area Relationship Education for Youth (CARE4U) program, completed pretest survey data. Participants completed questionnaires assessing self-affirmations (Harris et al., 2018), hope (Snyder, 2002), self-esteem (Ribins, Hendin, & Trzesniewski, 2001), psychological distress (Kessler et al., 2002), and loneliness (Eske Van Roekel, et al., 2018). The latter two constructs were entered as covariates in the model. Parent permission and child assent were taken before the administration of surveys.Results: Hayes (2017) PROCESS analyses tested direct and indirect effects in our hypothesized model via 5,000 bias-corrected bootstrapped samples. The two covariates (psychological distress, loneliness) were significantly negatively associated with self-esteem. Results indicated self-affirmation directly predicted greater self-esteem (β = .15, p = .036), and the indirect effect via hope was also statistically significant (β = .07, 95% CI = [0.02, 0.13]). Overall, the model explained 21% of the variance in self-esteem.Conclusions and Implications: The present study found more frequent self-affirmations were linked to greater hope, which in turn was linked to increased self-esteem—controlling for distress and loneliness. Reminding one’s self of positive aspects of identity may contribute to greater optimism regarding one’s ability to overcome obstacles, and ultimately influence global assessments of self-worth. Helping students identify and draw on self-affirmations may assist in positively impacting their evaluations of their current situation and themselves.
Ivanoff, Stephanie and Ullrich, Taylor, "Hopefulness: Explaining the Link Between Self-Affirmation and Self-Esteem" (2020). Psychology. 9.