Electrophysiological correlates of implicit valenced self-processing in high vs. low self-esteem individuals
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We provide the first high-temporal resolution account of the self-esteem implicit association test (IAT; Greenwald & Farnham, 2000) to highlight important similarities and differences between the cognitive processes corresponding to implicit valenced self-processing in high vs. low self-esteem individuals. We divided individuals into high and low self-esteem groups based on the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and administered the self-esteem IAT while recording electroencephalographic data. We show that the P2 captured group (high vs. low self-esteem) differences, the N250 and the late parietal positivity (LPP) captured differences corresponding to category pairing (self/positive vs. self/negative pairing), and the N1, P2, and P300-400 components captured interactions between self-esteem groups and whether the self was paired with positive or negative categories in the IAT. Overall, both high and low self-esteem groups were sensitive to the distinction between positive and negative information in relation to the self (me/negative generally displayed larger event-related potential amplitudes than me/positive), but for high self-esteem individuals, this difference was generally larger, earlier, and most pronounced over left-hemisphere electrodes. These electrophysiological differences may reflect differences in attentional resources devoted to teasing apart these two oppositely valenced associations. High self-esteem individuals appear to devote more automatic (early) attentional resources to strengthen the distinction between positively or negatively valenced information in relation to the self.
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