Self-validation theory (SVT) is introduced and presented as a series of six postulates. The core notion of SVT is that thoughts become more consequential for judgment and action as the perceived validity of the thoughts is increased. Instead of focusing on the objective accuracy of
thoughts, self-validation research focuses on a subjective sense that one’s thoughts are valid or appropriate to use. People come to rely on any thought more when they perceive that thought is likely to be true (cognitive validation) or because they feel good about the thought (affective
validation). Perceptions of thought validity are influenced by thought-relevant as well as incidental factors (e.g., one’s moods, sense of ease), and the impact of these factors can vary with their meaning. Individual and situational factors moderate when people rely on their assessments of validity and what thoughts are salient to validate. In short, SVT is a comprehensive and integrative framework from which to examine the use of thoughts across many seemingly diverse variables, outcomes, and domains in psychology. The theory is also relevant to understanding judgments in numerous applied contexts. By identifying moderators and mediators of thought validation processes and outcomes, SVT is capable of specifying when and why many different variables have an impact on judgments and actions.
Briñol, P., & Petty, R. E. (in press). Self-validation theory: An integrative framework for understanding when thoughts become consequential. Psychological Review.