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How Best-Self Activation Influences Emotions, Physiology and Employment Relationships

60 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2015  

Daniel Cable

London Business School

Jooa Julia Lee

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School

Bradley R. Staats

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Date Written: September 17, 2015

Abstract

It may be possible to offer people a new understanding of their best-self concepts, leading to positive personal and social change. We developed theory about how best-self activation can lead to both immediate and long-term outcomes through recursion, interaction, and subjective construal between the self concept and the social system. In two lab experiments and a field experiment in a global consulting firm, we tested the hypotheses by offering people reflections on times they were at their best. Results confirmed that best-self activation inspired improvements in people’s emotions, resistance to disease, resilience to stress and burnout, creative problem solving, performance under pressure, and relationships with their employer. Results also revealed that best-self activations are more effective in creating improvements when they feature information from one’s social network rather than personal reflections.

Keywords: best-self activation; resilience to stress; employee socialization; psychological contracts

Suggested Citation

Cable, Daniel and Lee, Jooa Julia and Gino, Francesca and Staats, Bradley R., How Best-Self Activation Influences Emotions, Physiology and Employment Relationships (September 17, 2015). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 16-029. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2662057 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2662057

Daniel Cable

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Jooa Julia Lee

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-647-4606 (Phone)

Francesca Gino (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Bradley R. Staats

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building, CB#3490
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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