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Unconditional regard buffers children's negative self-feelings

Unconditional regard buffers children's negative self-feelings
Unconditional regard buffers children's negative self-feelings
BACKGROUND:
Unconditional regard refers to the feeling that one is accepted and valued by others without conditions. Psychological theory suggests that experiences of unconditional regard lead children to feel that they are valuable despite setbacks. We hypothesized that reflecting on experiences of unconditional regard would buffer children's negative self-feelings (eg, shame, insecurity, powerlessness) in the face of setbacks. To test this hypothesis, we randomized children to reflect on experiences of unconditional regard or other experiences, and examined their response to an academic setback 3 weeks later.

METHODS:
Participants (11-15 years old) were randomly assigned to reflect for 15 minutes on experiences of unconditional regard (n = 91), conditional regard (n = 80), or other social experiences (n = 76). Research personnel, teachers, and classmates remained blind to condition assignment. Three weeks later, after receiving their course grades, children reported their self-feelings. Course grades were obtained from school records. Receiving low course grades represents a salient and painful real-world setback for children.

RESULTS:
Replicating previous research, children who received lower grades experienced more negative self-feelings (P < .001). As predicted, this well-established relationship was significantly attenuated among children who had reflected, 3 weeks previously, on experiences of unconditional regard (Ps < .03). Reflecting on unconditional regard specifically reduced negative self-feelings after low grades (P = .01), not after average or high grades (Ps > .17).

CONCLUSIONS:
Reflecting on unconditional regard buffered children's selves against the adverse impact of an academic setback over an extended period of time. Unconditional regard may thus be an important psychological lever to reduce negative self-feelings in youth.
unconditional regard, conditional regard, negative self-feelings, failure, grades, early adolescence, intervention
0031-4005
1119-1126
Brummelman, E.
19bb0965-5e83-4fc1-bb24-8b1dc2f192ed
Thomaes, S.
ec762bc3-0df4-42c3-99f4-1a7b65f55053
Walton, G.M.
9f5f5698-c1d6-4642-bf49-dfe4924286ff
Poorthuis, A.M.G.
82a00a04-0264-4d42-bc34-0004183f569c
Overbeek, G.
ec52a788-1e93-423e-bfc6-f5dc96a0976b
Orobio de Castro, B.
27b53138-aaf2-4f9a-b1e1-0f0ff216612b
Bushman, B.J.
37c56037-fb2b-455b-9988-4e15d16c7367
Brummelman, E.
19bb0965-5e83-4fc1-bb24-8b1dc2f192ed
Thomaes, S.
ec762bc3-0df4-42c3-99f4-1a7b65f55053
Walton, G.M.
9f5f5698-c1d6-4642-bf49-dfe4924286ff
Poorthuis, A.M.G.
82a00a04-0264-4d42-bc34-0004183f569c
Overbeek, G.
ec52a788-1e93-423e-bfc6-f5dc96a0976b
Orobio de Castro, B.
27b53138-aaf2-4f9a-b1e1-0f0ff216612b
Bushman, B.J.
37c56037-fb2b-455b-9988-4e15d16c7367

Brummelman, E., Thomaes, S., Walton, G.M., Poorthuis, A.M.G., Overbeek, G., Orobio de Castro, B. and Bushman, B.J. (2014) Unconditional regard buffers children's negative self-feelings. Pediatrics, 134 (6), 1119-1126. (doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3698). (PMID:25367539 )

Record type: Article

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Unconditional regard refers to the feeling that one is accepted and valued by others without conditions. Psychological theory suggests that experiences of unconditional regard lead children to feel that they are valuable despite setbacks. We hypothesized that reflecting on experiences of unconditional regard would buffer children's negative self-feelings (eg, shame, insecurity, powerlessness) in the face of setbacks. To test this hypothesis, we randomized children to reflect on experiences of unconditional regard or other experiences, and examined their response to an academic setback 3 weeks later.

METHODS:
Participants (11-15 years old) were randomly assigned to reflect for 15 minutes on experiences of unconditional regard (n = 91), conditional regard (n = 80), or other social experiences (n = 76). Research personnel, teachers, and classmates remained blind to condition assignment. Three weeks later, after receiving their course grades, children reported their self-feelings. Course grades were obtained from school records. Receiving low course grades represents a salient and painful real-world setback for children.

RESULTS:
Replicating previous research, children who received lower grades experienced more negative self-feelings (P < .001). As predicted, this well-established relationship was significantly attenuated among children who had reflected, 3 weeks previously, on experiences of unconditional regard (Ps < .03). Reflecting on unconditional regard specifically reduced negative self-feelings after low grades (P = .01), not after average or high grades (Ps > .17).

CONCLUSIONS:
Reflecting on unconditional regard buffered children's selves against the adverse impact of an academic setback over an extended period of time. Unconditional regard may thus be an important psychological lever to reduce negative self-feelings in youth.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 3 November 2014
Published date: December 2014
Keywords: unconditional regard, conditional regard, negative self-feelings, failure, grades, early adolescence, intervention
Organisations: Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377813
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377813
ISSN: 0031-4005
PURE UUID: 7023fa5a-f360-48b5-8d11-97b809be64e7

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Jun 2015 12:30
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 20:57

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