If We Don’t Feel Socially Accepted, We Get More Defensive When We’ve Done Something Wrong

When you’ve done something wrong, big or small, it can be hard to own up to it — particularly if you feel you’ve transgressed a moral or social code. Instead, you might avoid confronting the issue and become defensive. Yet defensiveness often has negative consequences anyway: it can hurt someone else’s feelings, cloud your ability to make a good decision in the moment, or prevent you from changing harmful behaviours.

But why do we get defensive, and what can we do to minimise those negative consequences? A new study asks both of these questions — and finds that defensiveness could be reduced by affirming people’s moral and social worth. Continue reading →

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