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ABSTRACT Why is it that many individuals verbally rationalize and distort self-esteem threatening information? We examined whether such verbal defensiveness (Feldman Barrett, Williams, & Fong, 2002) differs as a function of whether individuals' high self-esteem is secure or fragile. Our findings indicated that individuals whose self-esteem was stable, not contingent, or congruent with high implicit self-esteem exhibited especially low amounts of verbal defensiveness. In contrast, verbal defensiveness was considerably higher when individuals' high self-esteem was unstable, contingent, or paired with discrepant low implicit self-esteem. Discussion centers on why the possession of well-anchored and secure high self-esteem obviates defensiveness directed toward enhancing, maintaining, or bolstering feelings of self-worth.