Self-praise may cause depression

high five

People who try to reinforce a positive outlook by repeating self-praise could end up feeling depressed instead. New research from the American Psychological association tells us that the self-congratulatory message we give ourselves, especially when they are not earned, may backfire.

For those people who performed high or low on tasks, when they assessed themselves accurately, admitting the defeat or celebrating the triumph, they maintained more positive mental health.

“These findings challenge the popular notion that self-enhancement and providing positive performance feedback to low performers is beneficial to emotional health. Instead, our results underscore the emotional benefits of accurate self-assessments and performance feedback,” said Young-Hon Kim, PhD, of the Universality of Pennsylvania and lead author.

They used college aged students in Hong Kong and the US for the study, asking several groups to take the test and then assess themselves comparing their performance to their peers. The ones whose self-assessment was higher than their performance (they over praised themselves) were more likely to feel dejected in a follow up study.

“Distress following excessive self-praise is likely to occur when a person’s inadequacy is exposed, and because inaccurate self-assessments can prevent self-improvement,” said co-author ChiYue Chiu, of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. There seems to be a key element in acknowledging the deficiency and also acknowledging that performance can be better. That in itself is an uplifting affirmation that has more power than false self-praise.

The test also revealed cross-cultural differences in student groups. The Asian kids were more likely to be humble, underestimating their performance.

Source: APA journal Emotion, MedicalNewsToday


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