When Being a Bad Friend Doesn't Hurt: The Buffering Function of Gender Typicality Against Self-Esteem-Threatening Feedback

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Abstract.Research on domain-specific sociometer theory suggests that individual mate value has a great influence on self-esteem. In this study (N = 124), we investigated the notion that perceived high gender typicality increases one's perceived mate value and thus counteracts the usual decline in state self-esteem following negative feedback. The participants completed a fictitious personality test to assess their individual quality as a friend and received bogus negative feedback. Depending on the experimental condition, participants received a test score close to the mean test score attained by their own or the opposite gender and thus either gender-typical or gender-atypical. Additionally, we included a control condition in which no feedback was given. The results showed that participants in the gender-atypical condition reported lower state self-esteem than did participants in the gender-typical condition or the control condition. This buffer effect was mediated by perceived mate value.

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