Contingent self-worth has been studied as an individual differences variable affecting how self-relevant information is processed. We examined the effects of self-relevant information on contingent self-worth as a dependent variable. In Experiment 1 (N = 79, college students), participants’ performance contingency was higher after negative than positive performance feedback. In Experiment 2 (N = 3764, community sample), social approval and appearance contingencies were lower in a social approval condition than in control conditions. Mediation analyses suggested this effect was mediated by enhanced self-esteem. Thus, self-esteem increased due to the very source that participants came to regard as less important: Social approval. Results are explained in terms of sociometer theory and limited introspection abilities: All self-esteem is sensitive to external contingencies, people just become more aware of this when it is threatened.
Vonk, R., Radstaak, M., De Heus, P., & Jolij, J. (2019). Ironic effects of feedback on contingency of self-worth: Why self-reports of contingency are biased. Self and Identity, 18(2), 183-200. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2017.1406400