Main menu

Lydon, J., & Zanna, M. (1990). Commitment in the face of adversity: A value-affirmation approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1040-1047.



In light of Brickmarfs (1987a) model of commitment, it is argued that adversity serves as a clear test of one's felt commitment. Furthermore, it is proposed that people feel especially committed to those experiences that they see as diagnostic of their values. Therefore, we hypothesized that self-relevant values (Steele, 1988) may be an antecedent variable that predicts commitment in the face of adversity. Study 1, a cross-sectional study of students' ongoing personal projects, revealed that the perceived value relevance of the projects interacted with the degree of experienced adversity in predicting felt commitment. Whereas value relevance was unrelated to commitment under low adversity, it was positively related to commitment under high adversity. This interaction accounted for significant variance independent of Rusbult's investment model of commitment in the face of adversity. Study 2 was a longitudinal investigation of students engaged in term-long volunteer projects. Value relevance and initial reportsof commitment were measured at the beginning of the term, and adversity and subsequent reports of commitment were measured at the end of the term. Value relevance at the outset subsequently predicted commitment in the face of adversity. Moreover, initial reports of commitment did not account for the variance explained by the interaction of initial reports of value relevance and subsequent reports of adversity. Thus, value relevance predicted, in a positive direction, latent differences in commitment that were manifest in the face of adversity. Those who saw their projects as value relevant at the outset were more likely to feel committed in the face of adversity at the end of the term.

Full paper