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Keywords:

  • Key words: dark side of high self-esteem;
  • independence;
  • interdependence;
  • interpersonal threat;
  • task-relevant threat;
  • trait self-esteem

Previous research has indicated that individuals with high trait self-esteem (HSEs) become more independent and less interdependent after experiencing a task-relevant threat. However, these studies have not investigated other sources of ego threats, such as interpersonal threats. Therefore, the moderating effects of the degree of trait self-esteem on task-relevant and interpersonal ego threats were investigated in relation to independent, or interdependent self-construal. It was predicted that in HSEs, the level of task-relevant stress would be positively–negatively related to their independence–interdependence, whereas the level of interpersonal stress would be negatively–positively related to their independence–interdependence. In individuals with low trait self-esteem (LSEs), the two types of stresses and independent–interdependent self-construal may not have a significant relationship. We conducted a questionnaire survey with undergraduates. Correlational analysis of the results indicated that in HSEs, greater task-relevant stress was related to heightened independence, whereas greater interpersonal stress had the opposite effect, indicating lower independence and heightened interdependence. However, these stresses were not related to the self-construal of LSEs. These findings suggest that task-relevant and interpersonal threat could have differential effects on independent and interdependent self-construal for HSEs, but not in LSEs.