Self-esteem level has been positioned as a key mediating mechanism accounting for the effects of ostracism on behaviors, invoking the notion that individuals seek to verify their self-perceptions by behaving in a way that is consistent with those self-perceptions. However, evidence supporting the relation of ostracism and self-esteem level to behavioral outcomes has been mixed. We argue that such mixed effects arise because individuals may engage in behaviors alternately to verify their self-perceptions (suggesting a relation between self-esteem level and behavioral outcomes) or to selfenhance (suggesting no relation between self-esteem level and behavioral outcomes). Within this framing, the question becomes: When do we self-verify and when do we self-enhance? To that end, we position contingent self-esteem-or the extent to which individuals base their self-worth on outcomes in a particular domain-as a determining factor in whether we self-verify or self-enhance, and present a moderated mediation model to account for varying relations between ostracism and job performance. Our predictions regarding self-verification and self-enhancement motivation are fully supported across two field samples using multi-wave, multi-source study designs. Theoretical and practical implications for self-verification and self-enhancement motivation, as well as negative interpersonal behaviors at work, are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation