The role of implicit mechanisms in buffering self-esteem from social threats

Jordan B. Leitner*, Chad E. Forbes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Previous research has demonstrated that people have the goal of self-enhancing, or viewing themselves in an overly positive light. However, only recent research has examined the degree to which the relationship between self-enhancement goals and outcomes are a result of explicit deliberative mechanisms or implicit automatic mechanisms. The current chapter reviews evidence on unconscious goal pursuit, autobiographical memory, social neuroscience, and implicit self-esteem that suggests that implicit mechanisms play a powerful role in producing self-enhancement outcomes. Furthermore, this chapter reviews evidence that these implicit mechanisms are activated by social threats and thus contribute to successful coping. Finally, the authors discuss the implications of implicit self-enhancement mechanisms for targets of stigma, individuals who frequently encounter threats to well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring Implicit Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationLearning, Memory, and Social Cognitive Processes
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781466666009
ISBN (Print)1466665998, 9781466665996
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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