Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2015

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

by Daniel M. Cable, Jooa Julia Lee, Francesca Gino and Bradley R. Staats


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; Behavior; Satisfaction; Employee Relationship Management; Performance;


Cable, Daniel M., Jooa Julia Lee, Francesca Gino, and Bradley R. Staats. "How Best-Self Activation Influences Emotions, Physiology and Employment Relationships." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-029, September 2015.