Reactions to self-discrepant feedback: Feminist attitude and symbolic self-completion



Reactions to self-discrepant feedback were theoretically and experimentally investigated. The conceptual frame was provided by the theory of symbolic self-completion. Starting from the assumption that attitudes can function as central aspects of self-definition, 81 female subjects were either presented with feedback that their attitudes were unfeminist (treatment, i.e. incompleteness condition) or they received no feedback (control condition) Then they were given the opportunity for self-symbolizing by subscribing to a feminist journal. Subjects with strongly pro-feminist attitudes who were made incomplete with respect to their feminist self-definition subscribed more often and more intensively to the feminist journal than others. The results illustrate that attitudes can take on the character of self-definitions. Furthermore, reactions to self-discrepant feedback concerning a central attitude were as predicted by the theory of symbolic self-completion.