Is insecurity self-reinforcing?

In three studies, the authors tested a model positing that chronically insecure individuals often believe that their relationship partners view them as highly insecure. In turn, because of expectations regarding the social consequences of expressing insecurities, these reflected appraisals of insecurity are thought to predict suspicion of partners’ authenticity and feelings of powerlessness within relationships. Results supported these predictions. Self-esteem, attachment anxiety, neuroticism, proclivity for anger, and proclivity for hurt feelings predicted reflected appraisals of insecurity independently of whether partners detected insecurity. In turn, chronically insecure participants were suspicious of their partners’ authenticity and felt powerless in their relationships partly because they believed they were viewed as insecure. This research suggests that beliefs that one is perceived as insecure, even when they are misguided, can partially explain interpersonal cognitions associated with actually being insecure.

Source: “Implications of Reflected Appraisals of Interpersonal Insecurity for Suspicion and Power” from Society for Personality and Social Psychology

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