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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of self-esteem on persistance toward goals Di Paula, Adam W.


Previous research has indicated that high self-esteem persons persist more than low self-esteem persons after failure. A study was conducted to test the hypothesis that this finding would be reversed when people have the opportunity to pursue alternate goals in the face of failure. After receiving failure feedback, 120 subjects high and low in chronic self-esteem worked under conditions in which they a) could persist in the failed goal domain only, b) had the option of persisting or pursuing a new goal, or c) had the option of persisting or trying an alternate route to the failed goal. The main dependent measure was the minutes subjects continued to work on the original (failed) task. Contrary to predictions, high and low self-esteem subjects persisted equally in the failed goal domain, regardless of condition. However, high self-esteem subjects did persist more than low self-esteem subjects on the new task option, whether it represented a new goal or an alternative route toward the initial goal. Discussion centers on the interpretation of this pattern of effects, as well as how the present results point to the need for a more complex analysis of the self-esteem persistence relationship.

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