Compensatory Self-Inflation. A Response to the Threat to Self-Regard of Public Failure

Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


It was hypothesized that because public evaluative situations are most likely to encourage conditional self-regard, an overevaluation of self-image as a way to compensate for the threat of failure (compensatory self-inflation) is likely to occur if a failure is public but not if it is private. In a test of this idea, subjects either succeeded or failed on a test, and the outcome was either known or not known to others. Half of the subjects were subsequently required to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of the test. Then the favorability of self-image of all the subjects was assessed. The self-images of subjects who evaluated the test were not affected by the outcome manipulation. Compared with these subjects, among subjects who did not evaluate the test, favorability of self-image was increased after public failure and decreased after private failure. The hypothesis that compensatory self-inflation occurs after public but not private failure was confirmed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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