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Self-Esteem pp 21-36 | Cite as

Low Self-Esteem: The Uphill Struggle for Self-Integrity

  • Steven J. Spencer
  • Robert A. Josephs
  • Claude M. Steele
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)

Abstract

Like Steinbeck, we have wondered why some people are more resilient to the vicissitudes of life than others, that is, why their sense of worth and the psychological states that vary with it (e.g., defensiveness, efficacy, positive affect) are less affected by particular threats to their self- image. They have “thicker skins.” Clearly all of us fluctuate in this respect; sometimes and in some settings, we are more resilient than at other times or in other settings. But personal experience suggests there are reliable individual differences in this capacity. For example, one of the authors was presented with an option to buy a particularly risky stock by his brother. Like most such stocks, there was a good chance of a high payoff, coupled with, a good chance of a big loss. The author’s brother, thick of skin, was eager to buy. If the stock failed, he may have calculated, he had lots of esteem cushioning, a happy family, a good career as a lawyer, and so on. But the author, who had a thinner skin (perhaps because he was a poor graduate student at the time), was wary of the gamble. He focused on the possibility that the stock might lose value, and how foolish he would feel if he gambled away his tenuous financial security.

Keywords

Social Comparison Experimental Social Psychology Mortality Salience Downward Comparison Upward Comparison 
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.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Spencer
    • 1
  • Robert A. Josephs
    • 2
  • Claude M. Steele
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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