Self-Esteem pp 131-145 | Cite as

Self-Esteem, Self-Prediction, and Living up to Commitments

  • Todd F. Heatherton
  • Nalini Ambady
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


In this chapter, we examine the role of self-esteem in complex self- regulation. Although high self-esteem generally is associated with superior self-regulation (Bandura, 1989; Taylor, 1989), we present evidence indicating that high self-esteem may interfere with self-regulation when self-esteem is threatened. We propose that an optimal level of self- esteem is important for successfully making and living up to commitments.


Binge Eating Challenging Goal External Attribution Positive Illusion Unsolvable Task 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bagozzi, R. P. & Heatherton, T. F. (1991). Further evidence on the psychometric properties of the State Self-Esteem Scale. Unpublished manuscript. University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44, 1175–1184.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F. (1982). Self-esteem, self-presentation, and future interaction: A dilemma of reputation. Journal of Personality, 50, 29–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F. (1984). Choking under pressure: Self-consciousness and paradoxical effects of incentives on skillful performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 610–620.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F. (1989). The optimal margin of illusion.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 8, 176–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1993). When ego threats lead to self- regulation failure: The negative consequences of high self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 141–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumeister, R. F., & Scher, S. J. (1988). Self-defeating behavior patterns among normal individuals: Review and analysis of common self-destructive tendencies.Psychological Bulletin, 104, 3–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (1985). Self-esteem and responses to success and failure: Subsequent performance and intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality, 53, 450–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baumeister, R. F., Tice, D. M., & Hutton, D. G. (1989). Self-presentational motivations and personality differences in self-esteem. Journal of Personality, 57, 547–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baumgardner, A. H. (1991). To know oneself is to like oneself: Self-certainty and self-affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1062–1072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Baumgardner, A. H., Kaufman, C. M., & Levy, P. E. (1989). Regulating affect interper- sonally: When low self-esteem leads to greater enhancement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 907–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental and theoretical aspects. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  13. Brockner, J. (1979). The effects of self-esteem, success-failure, and self-consciousness on task performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1732–1741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brockner, J. (1983). Low self-esteem and behavioral plasticity: Some implications. In L. Wheeler & P. Shaver (Eds.), Review of personality and social psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 237–271). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, J. D. (1990). Self-esteem and clarity of self-concept. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 538–549.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell, J. D. & Fairey, P. J. (1985). Effects of self-esteem, hypothetical explanations, and verbalizations on future performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1097–1111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control theory approach to human behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Ciliska, D. (1990). Beyond dieting psychoeducational interventions for chronically obese women: A non-dieting approach. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  19. Cohen, L., van den Bout, J., van Vliet, T, & Kramer, W. (1989). Attributional asymmetries in relation to dysphoria and self-esteem. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 1055–1061.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Coopersmith, S. (1967). The antecedents of self-esteem. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  21. Crocker, J., Thompson, L. L., McGraw, K. M., & Ingerman, C. (1987). Downward comparisons, prejudice, and evaluation of others: Effects of self-esteem and threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 907–916.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Htch, G. (1970). Effects of self-esteem, perceived performance, and choice on causal attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 311–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of personal history. American Psychologist, 35, 603–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Greenwald, A. G., & Breckler, S. J. (1985). To whom is the self presented? In B. Schlenker (Ed.),The self and social life (pp. 126–145). New York: McCraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  25. Heatherton, T. F., & Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Binge eating as escape from self-awareness. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 86–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heatherton, T. F., Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (1991). Effects of physical threat and ego threat on eating behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 138–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heatherton, T. F., & Polivy, J. (1991). Development and validation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 895–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heatherton, T. F., & Polivy, J. (1992). Chronic dieting and eating disorders: A spiral model. In J. H. Crowther, S. E. Hobfall, M. A. P. Stevens, & D. L. Tennenbaum (Eds.), The etiology of bulimia: The individual and familial context (pp. 133–155). Washington, DC: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  29. Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (1980). Restrained eating. In A. Stunkard (Ed.),Eating and its disorders (pp. 141–156). Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
  30. Ickes, W., & Layden, M. A. (1978). Attributional styles. In J. Harvey (Ed.), New directions in attribution research (Vol. 2, pp. 119–152). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Janis, I. L., & Field, P. B. (1959). Sex differences and factors related to persuasibility. In C. I. Hovland & I. L. Janis (Eds.), Personality and persuasibility (pp. 55–68). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Janoff-Bulman, R., & Brickman, R. (1982). Expectations and what people leam from failure. In N. T. Féather (Ed.), Expectations and actions: Expectancy-value models in psychology (pp. 207–237). Hillsdale, NJ: Uwrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Jones, E. E., Rhodewalt, F., Berglas, S., & Skelton, J. A. (1981). Effect of strategic self presentation in subsequent self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 407–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Josephs, R. A. (1990). The threat of risky decision making to self-esteem. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  35. Kemis, M. H., Brockner, J., & Frankel, B. S. (1989). Self-esteem and reactions to failure: The mediating role of overgeneralization. Journal of Persormlity, 57, 707–714.Google Scholar
  36. Kirschenbaum, D. S., Tomarken, A. J., & Humphrey, L. L. (1985). Affect and adult self- regulation. Journal of Personality and Social liychology, 48, 509–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kuiper, N. (1978). Depression and causal attributions for success and failure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 236–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Langer, E. (1975). The illusion of control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 311–328.Google Scholar
  39. Mayo, L. G. (1978). The correlates of success in a behavioral weight reduction program. Dissertations Abstracts International, 38, 78 3897.Google Scholar
  40. McFarlin, D. B. (1985). Persistence in the face of failure: The impact of self-esteem and contingency information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11, 153–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McFarlin, D. B., & Blascovich, J. (1981). Effects of self-esteem and performance on future affective preferences and cognitive expectations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 521–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McFarlin, D. B., Baumeister, R. F., & Blascovich, J. (1984). On knowing when to quit: Task failure, self-esteem, advice, and nonproductive persistence. Journal of Personality, 52, 138–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Perez, R. C. (1973). The effect of experimentally-induced failure, self-esteem, and sex on cognitive differentiation. Journal Abnormal Psychology, 81, 74–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Polivy, J., Heatherton, T. F., & Herman, C. P. (1988). Self-esteem, restraint, and eating behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 354–356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pyszczynski, T., & Greenberg, J. (1983). Determinants of reduction in intended effort as a strategy for coping with anticipated failure. Journal of Research in Personality, 17, 412- 422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Raskin, R., Novacek, J., & Hogan, R. (1991). Narcissism, self-esteem, and defensive self- enhancement. Journal of Personality, 59, 19–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rizley, R. (1978). Depression and distortion in the attribution of causality. Journal of Personality and Abnormal Psychology, 87, 32–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rodin, J., Elias, M., Silberstein, L. R., & Wagner, A. (1988). Combined behavioral and pharmacologic treatment for obesity: Predictors of successful weight maintenance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 399–404.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sandelands, L. E., Brockner, J., & Glynn, M. A. (1988). If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: Effects of persistence-performance contingencies, ego involvement, and self- esteem on task persistence.Journal of Applied Psychology, 73, 208–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1988). A model of behavioral self-regulation: Translating intention into action. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 303–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schlenker, B. R., Weigold, M. F., & Hallam, J. R. (1990). Self-serving attributions in social context: Effects of self-esteem and social pressure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 855–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schneider, D. J., & Turkat, D. (1975). Self-presentation following success and failure: Defensive self-esteem models. Journal of Personality, 43, 127–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shrauger, J., & Sorman, P. (1977). Self-evaluations, initial success and failure, and improvement as determinants of persistence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 784–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 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
  55. Taylor, S. E. (1989). Positive illusions: Creative self-deception and the healthy mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  56. Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 193–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tennen, H., & Herzberger, S. (1987). Depression, self-esteem, and the absence of self- protective attributional biases.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 72–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tice, D. M. (1991). Esteem protection or enhancement? Self-handicapping motives and attributions differ by trait self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 711–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wahl, C. (1956). Some antecedent factors in the family histories of 109 alcoholics. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 17, 643–654.Google Scholar
  60. White, J. (1982). Rejection. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  61. Zautra, A. J., Guenther, R. T, & Chartier, G. M. (1985). Attributions for real and hypothetical events: Their relation to self-esteem and depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 530–540.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd F. Heatherton
    • 1
  • Nalini Ambady
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations