Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.


Thane S. Pittman


In their theory of self-verification, Swann and Read’s (1981) postulate that people like feedback that is consistent with their self-concept. Researchers have yet to examine what happens when two individuals are both seeking feedback from each other to verify their self-concept on the same domain. When individuals are competing against someone to verify a similarly held self-concept, they should try to seek more polarized feedback, especially when the domain is highly important. In two experiments, participants expected to receive computer feedback on their responses to identity-related questions, either based on their own responses or on how they compared to the other participants. In Experiment 1, participants who were competing on a domain of high importance sought more positive feedback, and sought more neutral feedback on a domain of low importance. Experiment 2, in which participants evaluated domains of negative self-concept, failed to yield any significant results. The evidence of extreme feedback-seeking on positive, important domains when competing for identity has important implications for detrimental identity-confirming processes in clinical populations that may inhibit recovery. Overall, this highlights the importance of considering the self-verification processes of both partners in an interaction.


self-verification, identity, self-concept, competition, interpersonal interaction