Mindset and stress : abstract and concrete thinking’s effect on coping with situational stress
Previous research indicates that the level of abstraction with which a person thinks about themselves influences subjective well-being; however, there is no research examining the impact abstraction has on altering the consequences of threats to self, specifically stress. The present study examined the possible buffering effects of abstract or concrete mindsets on individual approaches to a stressful task. We collected data from 37 college-aged participants who completed an initial personality survey. In lab, the participants completed baseline state self-esteem, stress, and affect measures, gave a five-minute speech in order to induce stress, and then completed a final survey that evaluated the changes in the state measures after the stressful task. Results indicated no significant differences between the two conditions for levels of stress, self-esteem, or affect. Although we did not observe an effect of level of abstraction on stress, it is still possible that such effects exist. Future studies should examine the implications approaching situations with an abstract or concrete mindset may have on psychological well-being in a longitudinal study, as well as the effect mindsets on self-enhancing positive psychology interventions.
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