The Effect of Encouragement on Defensive Pessimism as an Anxiety Amplifier
Parra, Erica L. (Erica Lynn)
The past literature indicates that performance is disrupted for defensive pessimists by encouragement. The goals of this research were to replicate this phenomenon, and then examine the mechanisms underlying it. Specifically, does the encouragement alleviate the anxiety defensive pessimists harness, and thus leave them unmotivated, or does it increase the pressure to perform well and make them overly anxious in a way that interferes with performance? Participants both high and low on defensive pessimism were randomly assigned to one of 2 conditions: an encouragement condition and a control condition. Participants were given three sets of 15 anagrams to solve in between a series of measures designed to assess their appraisals and emotions during the task. The phenomenon of encouragement disrupting performance for defensive pessimists was not replicated. However, there was evidence suggesting that the 4 negative items of the DPQ were a more reliable and valid indicator of defensive pessimism than the full scale. Therefore the reduced scale was used for analyses. Non-predicted findings using this reduced scale are described. Discussion centers on the possible reasons the original effect was not replicated, and advances suggestions for improving research on the defensive pessimism construct.