Autobiographical recall of mastery experiences is a mechanism of self-affirming under social identity threat

Lucy Tavitian-Elmadjian*, Michael Bender, Fons J. R. Van de Vijver, Athanasios Chasiotis, Charles Harb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Autobiographical memories are relevant to many areas of psychological functioning. So far, however, there is no evidence whether personal memories can also be instrumental for self-affirmation. We conducted two experiments, varying national identity threat among U.S. Americans recruited through MTurk. In Study 1, participants spontaneously recalled autobiographical memories after being exposed to varying levels of threat. When the threat was identity-relevant, those who spontaneously recalled mastery autobiographical memories had higher collective self-esteem than those who did not. In Study 2, we instructed participants to recall either mastery autobiographical memories or routine memories. When the threat was identity-relevant, collective self-esteem was again higher for mastery recall compared to routine recall, moderated by national identification and self-esteem. We also found a general, self-affirmative effect of autobiographical memories, regardless of threat relevance or recall content. Findings provide a first empirical demonstration that autobiographical recall can enhance self-affirmation in identity threat situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-60
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Volume160
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Self-affirmation
  • autobiographical memory
  • stereotype threat
  • social identity
  • STEREOTYPE THREAT
  • GROUP IDENTIFICATION
  • VALUES-AFFIRMATION
  • HEALTH MESSAGES
  • MODERATING ROLE
  • MEMORY
  • ESTEEM
  • POWER
  • PERFORMANCE
  • PSYCHOLOGY

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