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Is identity per se irrelevant? A contrarian view of self-verification effects

By Aiden P. Gregg


Self-verification theory (SVT) posits that people who hold negative self-views, such as depressive patients, ironically strive to verify that these self-views are correct, by actively seeking out critical feedback or interaction partners who evaluate them unfavorably. Such verification strivings are allegedly directed towards maximizing subjective perceptions of prediction and control. Nonetheless, verification strivings are also alleged to stabilize maladaptive self-perceptions, and thereby hindering therapeutic recovery. Despite the widespread acceptance of SVT, I contend that the evidence for it is weak and circumstantial. In particular, I contend that that most or all major findings cited in support of SVT can be more economically explained in terms of raison oblige theory (ROT). ROT posits that people with negative self-views solicit critical feedback, not because they want it, but because they their self-view inclines them regard it as probative, a necessary condition for considering it worth obtaining. Relevant findings are reviewed and reinterpreted with an emphasis on depression, and some new empirical data reported

Year: 2008
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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