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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The downside of self-esteem stability: Does stability impede flexibility?
by Wiese, Susan L., Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2010, 89; 3420061
Abstract (Summary)

Self-concept stability was tested in three studies to examine the relationship between stability in one's self-concept and the ability to adapt to changes in the social environment. Much of the literature on the topic of self-stability emphasizes the functional benefits of stability and the negative outcomes associated with instability. Dynamical systems theory purports however that stability in a dynamical system is indicative of a loss of complexity that limits the range of the systems behavior. Accordingly, this series of studies tests the idea that a stable self-system may have a more limited range of behaviors than unstable self-systems and this may have implications for adapting to changes in one's social environment. The overarching hypothesis is that compared to those with less stable self-views, those with stable self-views will demonstrate lower levels of flexibility of behavior in response to changing social demands. Study 1 assessed the dynamics of participants' evaluations by asking them to complete a self-descriptive recording and evaluate their self-descriptions using the mouse paradigm procedure. Participants also completed a series of questionnaires assessing personality factors and behavioral and cognitive flexibility. Study 2 expanded on the first study by adding a well-validated measure of self-esteem stability and a social conceptualization of behavioral flexibility. Study 3 tested participants' willingness to demonstrate behavioral flexible in an actual social situation and examined the effects of stress on the relationship between stability and flexibility. Results suggest that those with more stable self-concepts demonstrate less flexibility in response to their social environment than those whose self-concepts are less stable and that stress tends to amplify this relationship. Future research is also recommended to achieve a fuller understanding of stability in the self-system and its implications for social functioning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vallacher, Robin R.
School: Florida Atlantic University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Social psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Behavioral flexibility, Dynamical systems, Self-esteem, Stability
Publication Number: 3420061
ISBN: 978-1-124-15345-2
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