Whether you’re with friends, family or strangers, good vibes are where it’s at. As long as you’re in the right frame of mind.
A new study done by researchers at University College London however, has found that if you suffer from lower self-esteem, expecting to be appreciated could be detrimental to your mental health.
The study involved 40 healthy participants and 184 strangers. Participants complete a social evaluation task while in an MRI scanner by uploading a profile about themselves into a database, and having it evaluated by the strangers.
Thumbs Up or Down?
Here’s what was found. The strangers were divided into two groups. Those who were expected to give positive feedback formed one, and those with negative input, another.
Interestingly, when a stranger from the positive group actually gave a thumbs down to a participant who was expecting a thumbs up, the recipient’s self-esteem took a larger hit.
“We found that self-esteem changes were guided not only by whether other people like you, but were especially dependent on whether you expected to be liked,” Dr. Will said.
And for those who already suffered from a lower self-image, things were worse.
The study found that people who had greater fluctuations in self-esteem during the task also reported more symptoms of depression and anxiety, overall.
“We hope that these findings inform our understanding of how mental health problems develop, which may ultimately improve diagnostic tools and treatments,” Dr. Will commented.
Low self-esteem is a vulnerability factor for numerous psychiatric problems. These include eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression, he added.
Of course, building an emotional wall when it comes to connecting isn’t going to help. But being aware of your state of mind, and approaching it in the best way possible could help.
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