Identity-Goal Threats: Engaging in Distinct Compensatory Efforts

Peter M. Gollwitzer, Michael K. Marquardt, Michaela Scherer, Kentaro Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We hypothesized that threatening self-aspects that pertain to an identity specified in a binding identity goal leads to distinct compensation (i.e., self-symbolizing), whereas threatening self-aspects not specified in a binding identity goal leads to general self-worth restoration. To test this hypothesis, participants with either weak or strong commitments to becoming lawyers were subjected to either a related or unrelated self-threat, and then given the opportunity to restore both the lawyer identity and general self-worth. Only participants strongly committed to become lawyers responded to a related self-threat by distinct compensation rather than general self-worth restoration. Apparently, strong commitments to an identity goal isolate this particular part of the self from the overall self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-562
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • general self-worth
  • identity goals
  • self-affirmation
  • self-completion
  • self-threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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