Journal article

Attempting to improve the academic performance of struggling college students by bolstering their self-esteem: An intervention that backfired

Donelson R Forsyth, Natalie K Lawrence, Jeni L Burnette, Roy F Baumeister

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY | GUILFORD PUBLICATIONS INC | Published : 2007

Abstract

Theory and prior research suggest that (a) a positive sense of self-worth and (b) perceived control over one's outcomes facilitate constructive responses to negative outcomes. We therefore predicted that encouraging students to maintain their sense of self-worth and/or construe their academic outcomes as controllable would promote achievement. In a field experiment, low-performing students in a psychology class were randomly assigned to receive, each week, review questions, review questions plus self-esteem bolstering, or review questions plus exhortations to assume responsibility and control. Contrary to predictions, the D and F students got worse as a result of self-esteem bolstering and s..

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