Term of Award

Fall 1997

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Elisabeth Sherwin

Committee Member 1

John Murray

Committee Member 2

Bill McIntosh

Committee Member 3

Richard Rogers


Traditionally, research has suggested that individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to aggress in response to an ego threat than individuals with high self-esteem (Baumeister, Smart & Boden, 1996). However, Baumeister, Smart, and Boden (1996) predict that it is individuals with high self-esteem who are more likely to react aggressively The present study suggests that level of reality-based support, or hope, better accounts for aggressive reactions to an ego threat than self-esteem One hundred college undergraduates (29 men, 71 women) participated. Pretreatment measures assessed trait hope, trait self-esteem, and social desirability Treatment conditions involved assigning either bogus positive or negative feedback on a series of word construction tasks. Post-feedback measures assessed both overt, self-reported willingness-to-aggress attitudes and covert, aggressive behaviors Feedback condition and level of hope were significant predictors of aggressive behavior Individuals receiving negative feedback were more likely to aggress than those receiving positive feedback, and individuals with low hope were more likely to aggress than those with high hope. Social desirability was a significant predictor of self-reported, willingness-to-aggress attitudes. Individuals concerned with appearing socially desirable indicated fewer reports of aggressive attitudes than individuals with less concern for social desirability. These results suggest that it is hope, rather than level of self-esteem, that is associated with aggressive behavior.


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