Carlie A. Merriweather

In this direct replication of Holtgraves’ Experiment 4, I examine how affective and cognitive
verbs elicit different patterns of responses about self-esteem based on the respondent’s
gender. Participants (N = 2146) responded to one of two versions of a widely
used self-esteem scale, one with either ‘feel’ (e.g. “I feel…”) or ‘think’ (e.g. “I think…”)
prompts and reported their level of emotionality. Consistent with predictions, results
showed greater emotionality for females than males, no effect of verb type on emotionality,
and an association between greater emotionality and lower self- esteem. Contrary
to predictions, results showed a higher self-esteem for females and for the ‘think’
group. Importantly, Holtgraves’ key Gender x Verb interactions failed to replicate. Further
research is needed to examine how disparities in sample size, gender, and age affect
both replication and reported levels of self-esteem and emotionality. Ultimately,
the research reiterates the importance of replication and demonstrates the subtle influence
of language on the psychological processes underlying self-report responses.

Keywords: emotion, cognition, self-esteem, gender differences, prompt wording

Link to full article: Merriweather (2022)