Clarkson University professor published in journal of Psychological Science
Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 6:21 am

POTSDAM -- Research by Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Psychology Lisa Legault about failure, success and how we deal with them has been published in the journal Psychological Science.

The research explores the neurophysiological reactions that could explain how self-affirmation helps us deal with threats to our integrity.

From the mistakes we make at work or school to our blunders in romantic relationships, we are constantly reminded of how we could be better. By focusing on the important qualities that make us who we are – a process called self-affirmation – we preserve our self-worth in the face of our shortcomings.

But how does the process actually work?

“Although we know that self-affirmation reduces threat and improves performance, we know very little about why this happens,” said Legault. “And we know almost nothing about the neural correlates of this effect,” she said.

Legault and fellow researchers have tested several hypotheses using electroencephalography and other tools and found what they believe is evidence that exercises akin to “positive thinking” can work to preserve self-worth when it might be under attack.

A news release from the Association for Psychological Science is available at