Self-Esteem pp 201-218 | Cite as

Understanding the Inner Nature of Low Self-Esteem: Uncertain, Fragile, Protective, and Conflicted

  • Roy F. Baumeister
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


In recent decades, psychologists have offered many speculations and hypotheses about people with low self-esteem. Perhaps they hate themselves. Perhaps they seek to distort things in a negative, pessimistic direction. Perhaps they are indifferent to praise and popularity. Perhaps they lack some key drive to succeed or to think well of themselves. Perhaps they are irrational and self-destructive. In the last two decades, however, a growing body of enlightening data on low self-esteem has allowed psychologists to move beyond the earlier, more speculative theories. One can begin to sort the welter of competing theories into a coherent set of empirically grounded conclusions.


Positive View Physical Attractiveness Threatening Event Social Rejection Positive Illusion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baumeister, R. F. (1989). The optimal margin of illusion.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 8, 176–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F. (1991a). Meanings of life. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F. (1991b). Escaping the Self: Alcoholism, spirituality, masochism, and other flights from the burden of selfhood. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F. (1991c). On the stability of variability: Retest reliability of metatraits. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 633–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F., Tice, D. M., & Hutton, D. G. (1989). Self-presentational motivations and personality differences in self-esteem. Jourrml of Personality, 57, 547–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumgardner, A. H. (1990). To know oneself is to like oneself: Self-certainty and self-affect. Journal of Persormlity and Social Psychology, 58, 1062–1072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumgardner, A. H., Kaufman, C. M., & Levy, P. E. (1989). Regulating affect interper- sonally: When low self-esteem leads to greater enhancement. Journal of Persornlity and Social Psychology, 56, 907–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell, J. D. (1990). Self-esteem and clarity of the self-concept.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 538–549.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fleming, J. S., & Courtney, B. E. (1984). The dimensionality of self-esteem: II. Hierarchical facet model for revised measurement scales. Journal of Persornlity and Social Psychology, 46, 404–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harris, R. N., & Snyder, C. R. (1986). The role of uncertain self-esteem in self- handicapping. Jourrml of Persormlity and Social Psychology, 51, 451–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Heatherton, T. F., & Polivy, J. (1991). Development and validation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem. Jourrml of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 895–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jaius, I. L., & Field, P. (1959). Sex differences and personality factors related to per- suasibility. In C. Hovland & I. Janis (Eds.), Persormlity and persuasibility (pp. 55–68 and 300–302). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  13. McFarlin, D. B., & Blascovich, J. (1981). Effects of self-esteem and performance feedback on future affective preferences and cognitive expectations. Journal of Persormlity and Social Psychology, 40, 521–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Shrauger, J. S. (1975). Responses to evaluation as a function of initial self-perceptions. Psychological Bulletin, 82, 581–596.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology, vol 21 (pp. 261–302). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Swann, W. B. (1987). Identity negotiation: Where two roads meet. Jourrml of Personality arui Social Psychology, 53, 1038–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Swann, W. B., Griffin, J. J., Predmore, S. C., & Gaines, B. (1987). The cognitive-affective crossfire: When self-consistency confronts self-enhancement.Journal of Persornlity and Social Psychology, 52, 881–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Taylor, S. E., & Brovm, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 193–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy F. Baumeister
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations