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Reactions to Interpersonal Feedback: Self-Concept Change And Affiliation Choice In Individuals With Low Self-Esteem, Depressive, And Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
Though some previous research has demonstrated that individuals with low self-esteem, borderline personality disorder, and depressive symptoms process interpersonal feedback differently such that they tend to prefer more negative evaluations than controls do, other research has delineated certain limitations and conditions under which these biases are not demonstrated. The current study aimed to address whether or not affiliation preferences and processing differences by those with borderline personality disorder symptoms are mediated by self-esteem. This study also implements a complex paradigm with negative and positive feedback on both strengths and weaknesses to assess whether different feedback is preferred depending on individuals’ own feelings about traits. Additionally, this study sought to determine mechanisms underlying previous research showing that individuals with borderline personality disorder have a negative bias such that they incorporate more negative feedback into their self-concept than controls do. The current study implemented valenced structured feedback from four false evaluators to examine how individuals with borderline personality disorder symptomology differentially react to interpersonal feedback in terms of affiliation choices and self-concept change. Undergraduate participants (n = 107) wrote about their strengths and weaknesses, received feedback from four evaluators, ranked their preference and perceptions of evaluators, and rated and re-rated themselves as they compared to others on the traits they had chosen. Results indicated that, when evaluator feedback amplified weaknesses, individuals with higher identity disturbance and individuals with higher difficulties in emotion regulation found feedback to be significantly more believable than did individuals low in identity disturbance and individuals low in difficulties in emotion regulation. Results also demonstrated biased incorporation of feedback such that individuals with greater difficulties in regulating emotions were more likely to worsen their self-views about their weaknesses after receiving overall neutral feedback.