Self-discrepancy and distress: The role of personal growth initiative

Erin E. Hardin, Ingrid K. Weigold, Christine Robitschek, Ashley E. Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Higher levels of personal growth initiative (PGI; C. Robitschek, 1998) are associated with lower negative and higher positive affect (e.g., C. Robitschek & S. Kashubeck, 1999; C. Robitschek & C. L. M. Keyes, 2004). Two hypotheses that have been suggested for such findings are that (a) PGI moderates the relation between problems and affect and (b) successful resolution of potential problems mediates the relation between PGI and affect (C. Robitschek & S. Kashubeck, 1999). The current research tested these two hypotheses, using self-discrepancies (E. T. Higgins, 1987) as problems or sources of distress. Using a sequential design and a sample of predominantly European American college students (N = 134), the authors found that PGI was associated with lower social anxiety and negative affect, higher positive affect, and lower self-discrepancies. No support for the first (moderation) hypothesis was found. However, there was partial support for the second (mediational) hypothesis. The results suggest that those higher in PGI experience less social anxiety in part by maintaining lower self-discrepancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Affect
  • PGI
  • Personal growth initiative
  • Self-discrepancies
  • Social anxiety


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