Bracelets of Pride and Guilt? An Experimental Test of Self-Signaling
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Description: Self-signaling theory argues that behavior is important to build up or maintain a favorable self-image. We provide a novel test of this argument by manipulating the importance of behavior for future self-image. In two experiments, part of the subject pool is incentivized to wear bracelets as reminders of their initial identity-relevant behavior. We find some evidence that the bracelets increase anticipated memory, which should make behavior more relevant for managing a positive self-image. However, we find no evidence for self-signaling. Instead, our results suggest that participants resolve cognitive dissonance by constructing self-serving rationalizations of their actions that serve as cheap substitutes for self-signaling.