What Is Self-Verification Social Psychology?


Jane Flores

Self-verification social psychology is a theory that suggests individuals have a desire to be recognized and understood by others in a way that aligns with their self-conception, even if it is negative. In simpler terms, people want others to see them the way they see themselves, whether it’s positive or negative.

Understanding Self-Verification

The self-verification theory was first introduced by William Swann in 1983. According to Swann, people have a basic need for cognitive consistency, which means their thoughts and beliefs must be consistent with each other. When someone’s self-concept matches how others perceive them, it creates a sense of stability and predictability.

Self-Verification vs. Self-Esteem

It’s important to note that self-verification is different from self-esteem. While self-esteem refers to an individual’s overall evaluation of themselves as worthy or valuable, self-verification focuses on the need for consistency between one’s self-concept and external feedback.

For example, if someone has low self-esteem but wishes to be viewed as confident by others, they may still seek out feedback that confirms their negative beliefs about themselves rather than seeking positive feedback that contradicts their self-conception.

The Importance of Self-Verification

Self-verification can play a significant role in shaping our behaviors and interactions with others. If we believe we are shy and introverted, we may avoid social situations or interactions that require us to be outgoing or assertive because they contradict our self-conception.

On the other hand, if we believe we are outgoing and adventurous, we may seek out opportunities that reinforce this belief about ourselves, even if they pose potential risks or challenges.

Examples of Self-Verification in Everyday Life

  • A person who identifies as religious may seek out religious communities and interactions with those who share their beliefs to reinforce their self-conception.
  • Someone who sees themselves as creative may seek out artistic opportunities and feedback from others to confirm this aspect of their identity.
  • A person with low self-esteem may seek out relationships or interactions that confirm their negative self-conception, such as with partners who criticize them or friends who validate their insecurities.

Limitations of Self-Verification

While self-verification can provide a sense of stability and predictability, it can also limit personal growth and development. If someone’s self-concept is based on negative beliefs or past experiences, seeking out consistent feedback that reinforces these beliefs can prevent them from challenging or changing their perspective.

Additionally, if someone’s self-verification needs conflict with others’ perceptions or expectations, it can create tension and conflict in relationships and social interactions.


Self-verification social psychology provides insight into how individuals seek out confirmation from others that aligns with their self-conception. While it can provide a sense of stability and predictability, it can also limit personal growth and create tension in relationships. Understanding the role of self-verification in our own lives and interactions with others can help us navigate these dynamics more effectively.