In This Article Self-Esteem

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • History
  • Definition
  • Implicit Self-Esteem
  • Connections with Self-Concept
  • Pursuit of Self-Esteem
  • Fragile Self-Esteem
  • Protective Function
  • Status-Tracking Property
  • Status-Signaling Property
  • Assessment of Trait Self-Esteem
  • Assessment of State Self-Esteem
  • Etiology
  • Developmental Changes
  • Indicators of Psychological Adjustment
  • Subjective Well-Being
  • Physical Health
  • Academic Achievement
  • Occupational Success
  • Crime, Delinquency, and Antisocial Behavior
  • Loneliness
  • Relationship Quality and Stability
  • Personality Features
  • Rejection Sensitivity
  • Risky Decision Making
  • Physiological Outcomes
  • Interpersonal Behavior
  • First Impressions
  • Relationship Maintenance Behaviors
  • Prosocial Behavior
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Gender Differences
  • Cultural Differences
  • Racial/Ethnic Differences
  • Self-Esteem Improvement

Psychology Self-Esteem
by
Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Christian Jordan, Jessica J. Cameron
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0124

Introduction

Self-esteem is one of the most widely studied topics in psychology; more than 35,000 publications deal with how individuals feel about themselves. This exceptionally diverse literature has examined numerous issues surrounding self-esteem, including its potential causes, consequences, and correlates. Despite the considerable empirical attention devoted to self-esteem, there are important issues that require additional attention from scholars, such as the structure of self-esteem, group differences in self-esteem, the connection of self-esteem to important life outcomes, and the heterogeneous nature of self-esteem. It is important to note that self-esteem is most often considered to be a dimensional construct, with “low self-esteem” and “high self-esteem” representing the ends of a continuum. For ease of explanation, researchers often refer to individuals with relatively low scores on measures of self-esteem as possessing “low self-esteem,” and to those with relatively high scores as possessing “high self-esteem.” This convention is followed throughout this article.

General Overviews

Self-esteem has attracted a great deal of attention from social-personality, developmental, and clinical psychologists in recent decades. The reason for this considerable attention is most likely the fact that self-esteem is associated with a number of important life outcomes, including psychological adjustment, academic success, physical health, and relationship satisfaction (though whether self-esteem causes these outcomes remains controversial). Kernis 2006 is an invaluable resource for those who are interested in learning more about self-esteem research. Other notable resources for background information on self-esteem are Zeigler-Hill 2013, which provides an updated overview of the self-esteem literature, Baumeister 1993, which focuses on low self-esteem, and Leary and Tangney 2012, which integrates self-esteem with other aspects of self and identity. Bosson and Swann 2009 presents a concise but comprehensive overview of the self-esteem literature.

  • Baumeister, R. F. 1993. Self-esteem: The puzzle of low self-regard. New York: Plenum.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4684-8956-9E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume consists of thirteen chapters covering various issues connected with low self-esteem. This is an exceptional resource for those interested in low self-esteem.

  • Bosson, J. K., and W. B. Swann Jr. 2009. Self-esteem. In Handbook of individual differences in social behavior. Edited by M. R. Leary and R. H. Hoyle, 527–546. New York: Guilford.

    E-mail Citation »

    This handbook chapter presents a concise but comprehensive overview of the self-esteem literature, focusing in particular on research that has been conducted by social-personality psychologists.

  • Kernis, M. H. 2006. Self-esteem issues and answers: A source book of current perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume consists of fifty-six concise chapters covering various aspects of self-esteem. This is an extremely valuable resource for scholars and students interested in empirical research concerning self-esteem. This book is notable for its breadth and for bringing together the leading authorities from several diverse areas of psychology.

  • Leary, M. R., and J. P. Tangney. 2012. Handbook of self and identity. 2d ed. New York: Guilford.

    E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume consists of thirty-one chapters covering an array of issues relevant to the self. Many of the chapters are relevant for scholars or students interested in self-esteem.

  • Zeigler-Hill, V. 2013. Self-esteem. London: Psychology Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume consists of nine chapters covering the central aspects of self-esteem. This is a valuable resource for scholars and students interested in current empirical research concerning self-esteem.

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