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Abstract

A field study tested whether college students' reactions to evaluations of their performance on an important examination were based primarily on self-consistency or self-enhancement needs. All students (N= 166) completed two questionnaires, one a week before and the other a week after the examination. The first questionnaire measured general self-expectancies (self-esteem), as well as expectancies specific to the upcoming examination. The second questionnaire measured six separate phases of the students' reactions to their performance evaluations (cf. Shrauger, 1975), each phase being primarily cognitive or affective in nature. The results showed a strong general preference for positive rather than negative performance evaluations among the students, regardless of their self-expectancies. Self-enhancement effects emerged more clearly than did self-consistency effects, and most effects of both types tended to involve general rather than specific self-expectancies. Finally, there was some support for Shrauger's claim that cognitive reactions to performance evaluations are influenced by self-consistency needs, whereas affective reactions are influenced by self-enhancement needs.