People with low self-esteem tend to fear social rejection. Recent research suggests this fear of rejection leads them to seek social support in ways that ironically create the very rejection they fear.
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Most of us assume that the way how young children are raised shapes their evolving sense of self-esteem. Consider two examples. Rachel’s parents are warm and responsive individuals, show interest in Rachel’s feelings and opinions, and promote her cognitive development. In contrast, Sophie’s parents have persistent marital conflicts, often lack the emotional resources to pay attention to Sophie’s needs, and frequently yell at her when she does something wrong. It seems likely that Rachel develops higher self-esteem than Sophie.
Low self-esteem partners can feel vulnerable in their relationship, including feeling insecure about their partner’s support and love. In a series of studies, social psychologists in the Netherlands show that people with low self-esteem end up regretting sacrifices they make in relationships because they do not feel appreciated or supported by their partner. The results appear in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Negative social feedback is an inevitable part of life. Attempts at romance sometimes fall short, some job interviews will not yield offers, and the media bombards us with messages that we lack physical attractiveness. Even highly successful individuals will experience negative feedback from time to time. How do we integrate such negative cues into our self-worth?
I have relationships with lots of people. I have relationships with my parents and sisters. I have relationships with my friends and colleagues. I have a relationship with my girlfriend. I even have a relationship with the cashier at the Trader Joe’s who doesn’t make me feel bad when all I buy is chips, beer and chocolate peanut butter cups. But do I have a relationship with God? Could I have a relationship with God that bears a psychologically meaningful resemblance to my relationships with the important people in my life?