Self-affirmation can help people set aside their social insecurity and can help them feel better about themselves and more at ease with others, according to a new study.
A new study by Victoria psychologist Danu Anthony Stinson, along with Christine Logel, Steven Shepherd, and Mark Zanna of the University of Waterloo, demonstrates the real-life social benefits of self-affirmation-and finds that the benefits last as long as two months.
In the experiment, 117 participants completed questionnaires assessing their feelings of "relational security" with friends, family, and current or potential romantic partners.
The participants ranked 11 values, such as intellect and creativity, in order of personal importance, and detailed the reasons why their top-ranked value was important to them, how it influenced their lives, and why it was central to their identity.
The control group wrote about their ninth-ranked value and why it might matter to someone else.
Participants then went about their lives, returning to the lab for follow-up sessions two times in the subsequent two months. At those sessions, participants again reported on their relational security. They also interacted with an experimenter, who rated their social tension, evidenced by their displays of agitation, anxiety, and appreciativeness.
The results showed that the initially insecure participants who completed the self-affirmation task grew more secure over the following two months and also behaved in more relaxed and positive ways with the experimenter.
The study will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.