Self-Esteem pp 117-130 | Cite as

Motivational Conflict and the Self: The Double-Bind of Low Self-Esteem

  • Jonathon D. Brown
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


Students of the self have long recognized two motives that influence self-processes. On the one hand, people want to feel good about themselves. They want to believe that they are competent, worthy, and loved by others. This desire for self-enhancement is regarded as so fundamental to human functioning that it was dubbed the “master sentiment” by William McDougall (1932) and “the basic law of human life” by the renowned anthropologist Ernest Becker (1971). Many other figures of historical (e.g., Allport, 1943; Cooley, 1902; Mead, 1934) and contemporary (e.g., Baumeister, 1991; Greenwald, 1980; Schlenker, 1985; Steele, 1988; Tesser, 1988) prominence have endorsed the belief that a drive to achieve a positive self-image is, in the words of William James (1890), a direct and elementary endowment of human nature.


Experimental Social Psychology Indirect Form Positive Life Event Group Favoritism Motivational Conflict 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathon D. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, NI-25University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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