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Positive self-presentation may have beneficial consequences for mood that are typically overlooked. Across a series of studies, participants underestimated how good they would feel in situations that required them to put their best face forward. In Studies 1 and 2A, participants underestimated the emotional benefits of interacting with an opposite sex stranger versus the benefits of interacting with a romantic partner. In Study 2B, participants who were instructed to engage in self-presentation felt happier after interacting with their romantic partner than participants who were not given this instruction, although other participants serving as forecasters did not anticipate such benefits. Increasing the generalizability of this self-presentation effect across contexts, the authors demonstrated that participants also underestimated how good they would feel before and after being evaluated by another person (Studies 3 and 4). This failure to recognize the affective benefits of putting one’s best face forward may underlie forecasting errors regarding the emotional consequences of the most common forms of social interactions.
Source: “Misunderstanding the affective consequences of everyday social interactions: the hidden benefits of putting one’s best face forward.” from Journal of personality and social psychology, 2007 Jun;92(6):990-1005.
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