Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 77-172

First online:

A multidimensional, hierarchical model of self-concept: Theoretical and empirical justification

  • Herbert W. MarshAffiliated withSchool of Education, University of Western Sydney, Macarthur

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The self-concept construct is one of the oldest in psychology and is used widely in many disciplines. Despite its popularity, reviews prior to the 1980s typically emphasized the lack of theoretical basis in most studies, the poor quality of measurement instruments, methodological shortcomings, and a general lack of consistent findings except, perhaps, support for the null hypothesis. This situation called into question the usefulness of the self-concept construct. In dramatic contrast, the last decade has seen considerable progress in theory, measurement, and research. This progress is due at least in part to a stronger emphasis on a multidimensional self-concept instead of global measures of self. The purpose of this invited review is to summarize how my self-concept research has contributed to these advances. This review further substantiates the claim that self-concept cannot be understood adequately if its multidimensionality is ignored, and recommends that researchers use well-constructed multidimensional measures of self-concept instead of relying solely on global measures of self.

Key words

self-concept multidimensional global measures