The trap of affiramtion: Hidden costs of de-escalating commitment through self-affirmation

Niro Sivanathan*, Daniel Molden, Adam D. Galinsky, Gillian Ku

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Escalation of commitment is fueled by the need to justify earlier decisions. Drawing on the motivated cognition literature, we examine how self-affirmation processes influence self-justification needs and thus affect escalation decisions. Study 1 demonstrated that affirming one's global values before recommitting resources reduced escalation. Study 2 found that whereas affirming traits that were irrelevant to an earlier poor decision reduced escalation, affirming decision-relevant traits ironically increased escalation. Finally, Study 3 demonstrated that whereas high self-esteem was associated with reduced escalation when primed following a poor decision, high self-esteem increased escalation when primed before making a poor decision. Across three studies, using three instantiations of self-affirmations and two measures of escalation, our results highlight the benefits and costs of using self-affirmation as a vehicle to de-escalate commitment; affirmations can either reduce self-justification needs by mobilizing resources for maintaining self-integrity or increase self-justification needs by highlighting self-standards that are not being met.

Original languageEnglish (US)
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Event67th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2007 - Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2007Aug 8 2007

Other

Other67th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2007
CountryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, PA
Period8/3/078/8/07

Keywords

  • Escalation of commitment
  • Motivated cognition
  • Self-affirmation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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