Research Seminar Series: Prof. Chen Zhijun

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Speaker: Prof. Chen Zhijun, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE)
Title: Slouching Prometheus: How A Self-esteem Cocoon Is Formed
Date: Tues, 14th Feb 2023 💕
Time: 10:00am – 12:30pm
Venue: Building 24, Copland, Seminar Room 1106

Prof. Giles Hirst is the host of this visit


Maintaining a positive social self is a fundamental need and desire. Much research has shown that people facing psychological harms will mobilize resources to defend their self-regard and keep it from being hurt. Unfortunately, this defensive tendency can thwart personal maturity, leading to an outcome we call the “self-esteem cocoon.” The alternative option is to use extant resources to pursue rights and opportunities for self-expansion. Integrating conservation of resources theory with the self-evaluation perspective, we propose and empirically test an important determinant for maintaining versus breaking this cocoon: psychological entitlement. Across three field studies of registered nurses working in different Chinese hospitals, we find in a healthcare setting that while servant leadership fostered nurses’ self-esteem and job performance, such effects were influenced by the extent of experienced patient aggression and nurses’ degree of psychological entitlement. Specifically, for nurses with low psychological entitlement, the effects of servant leadership were weaker when patient aggression was higher (suggesting the tendency to form a self-esteem cocoon), whereas the same effects were stronger when patient aggression was higher for nurses with high psychological entitlement. We discuss the implications of these findings, accordingly.


Zhijun Chen is the Academic Director of the MBA program and Head of the Department of Human Resources Management at College of Business at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) and a professor of the department. He is also an honorary research fellow of the University of Western Australia. Currently, Zhijun is an Associate Editor of the Human Relations and the Rep-at-large for International Association of Chinese Management Research. He sits in the editorial review board of internationally leading journals such as Asian Pacific Journal of Management and Journal of Business Research. Zhijun is interested in studying employee proactive behavior, job crafting and job design, and different forms of leadership styles. His work has been published at the Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Management, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. He teaches courses such as organizational behavior, strategic human resources management and social psychology for different levels of students. 

Event Details

Start Date
End Date
Building 24, Copland, Seminar Room 1106