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Journal Abstract - EyeSpy: The Matrix  

The Inhibition of Socially Rejecting Information Among People with High versus Low Self-Esteem: The Role of Attentional Bias and the Effects of Bias Reduction Training

Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(4) August 2004. Distributed with permission of The Guilford Press.

Stéphane D. Dandeneau and Mark W. Baldwin
McGill University

In two studies we examined the inhibition of rejection information. In Study 1 we developed a Rejection Stroop task with the purpose of measuring an attentional bias to rejection words hypothesized to characterize individuals with low self-esteem. Results indicated that people with low self-esteem experienced significantly more interference on rejection words than on acceptance words, whereas for people with high self-esteem there was no such difference. In Study 2 we developed a task to train the response of inhibiting rejection information, by repeatedly identifying the smiling/accepting face in a 4 X 4 matrix of frowning faces. Results showed that after this inhibition training, people with low chronic self-esteem experienced significantly less interference on rejection words on the Rejection Stroop than their counterparts in the control condition. People with high self-esteem on the other hand, did not exhibit different amounts of interference on rejection or acceptance words between conditions. The present findings suggest that it is possible to measure people’s attentional bias to rejection and teach people skills that help them deal with negative social information.

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