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Self-esteem, self-symbolizing, and academic recognition: behavioral evidence from curricula vitae

Abstract

To provide new evidence on the empirically challenging aspect of measuring self-esteem, we collect written CV content from over 500 influential economics scholars and use such self-presentation modes as absolute and relative font sizes and typographic emphasis of author name on the CV’s front page to derive proxies for self-symbolizing behavior. Our analysis of these factors provides empirical support for the symbolic self-completion proposition that goal accomplishment reduces the need to self-symbolize. In particular, we find that receiving an education from a top 20 ranked university reduces the need to self-symbolize even when the scholars work for a non-top 20 university after earning the doctorate. On the other hand, major academic awards or honors do not seem to affect self-symbolizing behavior, which is also negatively correlated with activities having an external (e.g., policy-focused) social impact. Scholars with a higher h-index are also less inclined to self-symbolize, while being ranked in the Coupé top 1000 has no impact. Hence, despite some evidence of non-linearity, academic maturity shows a tendency (albeit not a robust one) to reduce the need to self-symbolize.

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Notes

  1. A respondent’s name letters are randomly assigned to the pair of letter lists from which they are asked to choose one letter in an immediate spontaneous reaction (Krizan and Suls 2008).

  2. 52,776 authors with written papers and 13,909 without papers.

  3. Our findings remain robust to the use of alternative cut-offs.

  4. https://ideas.repec.org/coupe.html.

  5. Several prominent academics have written broadly successful books (Chan et al. 2016a, b). Achieving a New York Times Best Seller, for example, is positively correlated with higher speaking fees (Chan et al. 2014).

  6. https://www.aeaweb.org/about-aea/honors-awards/bates-clark.

  7. For a correlation matrix between the independent factors, see Appendix Table 9.

  8. Orth et al. (2012), in an in-depth examination of self-esteem across the life span based on cross-sectional data for 326,641 individuals, also report evidence of non-linearity.

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Acknowledgements

Ho Fai Chan and Benno Torgler benefitted from support by the Australian Research Council (ARC), DP180101169.

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Correspondence to Benno Torgler.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 5678 and 9.

Table 5 Summary statistics of self-esteem proxies
Table 6 Summary statistics on the independent variables
Table 7 Torgler and Piatti aggregate top institutional rankings.
Table 8 Explanatory variables measuring career development
Table 9 Pairwise correlation coefficient of independent variables

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Bi, W., Chan, H.F. & Torgler, B. Self-esteem, self-symbolizing, and academic recognition: behavioral evidence from curricula vitae. Scientometrics 119, 495–525 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-019-03037-8

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Keywords

  • Self-esteem
  • Self-symbolization
  • Academia
  • Performance
  • Success
  • Recognition