Yu NIIYA, Jennifer CROCKER, and Elizabeth N. BARTMESS : From Vulnerability to Resilience

Published in Psychological Science Volume 15 Issue 12 Page 801 – December 2004 doi:10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00759.x


An experiment examined the buffering effects of a learning orientation following failure in a domain of contingent self-worth. Participants’ academic contingencies of self-worth (CSW) and priming with theories of intelligence interacted to affect vulnerability of self-esteem to failure. Participants who had high academic CSW and were primed with an entity theory of intelligence experienced lower self-esteem and higher negative affect following failure than following success on an academic test, but these effects were eliminated when participants with high academic CSW were primed with an incremental theory of intelligence. This study shows that endorsing a learning orientation is an effective way to minimize threat to self-esteem among students whose self-worth is highly contingent on academics and may allow them to persist in the face of challenges and to learn from failure.

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