Valence-dependent self-scrutiny in judgments of event impact

Rachel Smallman*, Neal Roese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


How do people judge the impact of events on themselves? We found evidence for valence-dependent self-scrutiny, such that people consider the interplay between an event and self-attributes more systematically when the event is positive than when negative. In Experiment 1, participants evaluated the self-impact of news stories varying in valence and self-relevance, and after each story, completed a projective pronoun-identification task designed to assess self-scrutiny. In judging positive event impact, self-scrutiny was greater for high than low self-relevance news stories. for negative event impact, self-scrutiny did not vary as a function of self-relevance. In Experiment 2, participants made impact versus control judgments about events of positive versus negative valence; each judgment was followed by a self-description task. Positive but not negative event impact judgments facilitated (relative to control judgments) subsequent response times on the self-description task. Also, negative but not positive event impact judgments were made more rapidly (relative to control judgments), suggesting that the former were rendered more heuristically. These findings clarify the processes underlying event impact judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-846
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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