Improving Performance on a Creativity Task via Self-Affirmation
Previous research has suggested that writing about an important person value, compared to writing about a value that is not important, can reduce defensive responding to threats to self, decrease ruminative behavior, and improve academic performance. The current study tests the effects of self-affirmation on a laboratory-based performance intelligence task in college students (N=51). After engaging in the writing task, participants were given the “intelligence test” (a Remote Associates Task) from a trained evaluator under time pressure and negative social evaluation. They were given failure feedback telling them they were below average among their peers. Following the test, participants filled out questionnaires to assess their acceptance of the news article (which described the RAT as a good predictor intelligence and one’s future success), how negatively they perceived the trained intelligence test evaluator, and rumination. Findings indicate that performing this self-affirmation writing activity can improve performance on the RAT. There were no effects of self-affirmation on defensiveness and rumination, and work is currently exploring the mechanisms of the self-affirmation and improved performance link in this study. The present study provides the first laboratory evidence for a performance effect of self-affirmation and provides opportunities to explore how self-affirmation improves academic performance in student populations.