The finding is from a study in which people with low self-esteem were fed false information about their romantic partner. When the participants were told their partner did not like something about them, those with low self-esteem tended to decide that the overall relationship was in jeopardy.
In the eyes of a person with low self-esteem, the researchers found that temporary difficulties can threaten the sense of security in a relationship.
How were the relationships tested?
In the experiments researchers asked some participants to think about aspects of their personalities they didn’t want to share with their partners. Those participants with low self-esteem started to report fewer positive traits in their partners and more anxiety about their relationship.
Another tactic used by the researchers was asking another group of participants how often their partners appeared annoyed with them. The researchers then informed them, based on their responses, that their partners were not happy with certain aspects of their personalities and that this could lead to significant problems down the road.
What did the researchers conclude about those with high and low self-esteem?
Those with high self-esteem became more confident about their partner’s affections after the experiment, while people with low self-esteem questioned their relationships and inserted more distance into the relationship. The researchers postulated that those with high self-esteem were better able to weather the bumps in the road that occur in every relationship than those with low self-esteem.