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The False-Hope Syndrome: Unfulfilled Expectations of Self-Change

Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman
Current Directions in Psychological Science
Vol. 9, No. 4 (Aug., 2000), pp. 128-131
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182645
Page Count: 4
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The False-Hope Syndrome: Unfulfilled Expectations of Self-Change
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Abstract

Why do people persist in attempting to change themselves, despite repeated failure? Self-change is often perceived as unrealistically easy to achieve, in an unreasonably short period of time. Moreover, embarking on self-change attempts induces feelings of control and optimism that supersede the lessons of prior experience. Finally, people tend to expect an unrealistically high payoff from successful self-change. Some sorts of self-change are feasible, but we must learn to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic self-change goals, between confidence and overconfidence. Overconfidence breeds false hope, which engenders inflated expectations of success and eventually the misery of defeat.

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