People who regularly practice self-affirmation may be better off emotionally, as suggested by a new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology.
People generally tend to view themselves positively, but what happens when someone or something threatens that positive self-perception?
“One coping strategy is self-affirmation, or focusing on one’s personal values and strengths,” said Amber Emanuel, corresponding author of the study.
“When people self-affirm, they…focus on the “big picture,” and appreciate the context of the threat as well as approach it more effectively,” Emanuel continued.
Scientists have hinted that self-affirmation may positively affect well-being, but most previous research has focused on “induced” affirmations. Few have examined spontaneous self-affirmations that come naturally. Also noteworthy is the fact that there is little demographic information regarding self-affirmation.
3,185 participants completed a health information survey as well as a series of questionnaires about spontaneous self-affirmation and demographic information.
The results showed that overall, many participants reported spontaneously self-affirming at least some of the time. The respondents who regularly self-affirmed were more likely to report “better mental and physical well-being including greater happiness, hopefulness, optimism, personal health efficacy, and subjective health, and less sadness and anger,” according to Emanuel.
Data also showed that African-American and Hispanic participants were significantly more likely to engage in spontaneous self-affirmation than White participants. Additionally, older participants self-affirmed more frequently than younger participants.
“These results are promising,” said Emanuel. “The present research links prior work suggesting that self-affirmation is an effective psychological threat-management strategy.”