SAGE Journal Articles

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Crocker, J. & Luhtanen, R.K. (2003). Level of self-esteem and contingencies of self-worth: Unique effects on academic, social, and financial problems in college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26 (9), 701-712-908. doi: 10.1177/0146167203029006003

Summary: The authors examined which aspects of self-evaluation have a stronger effect on future outcomes. While self-esteem might be predictive of future social problems, it is not an accurate predictor of academic or financial outcomes.

Questions to consider:

  1. Define contingent self-esteem.
  2. The authors measure several factors in addition to contingent self-esteem in order to examine what may affect students’ academic, social, and financial success. What are the measures and why did they include them?
  3. Which variables were associated with contingencies of self-worth and their outcomes?
  4. Which personality traits were associated with more positive outcomes? Once the researchers controlled for these personality variables, what did we learn about the effect of contingent self-esteem on academic, social, and financial success?


Kwang, T., & Swann, W.B. (2010). Do people embrace praise even when they feel unworthy? A review of critical tests of self-enhancement versus self-verification. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 263-280. doi: 10.1177/1088868310365876

Summary: Although there is a great deal of evidence that people seek positive feedback, there are situations in which people often prefer negative feedback if it is more in line with their self-evaluations. This research explores the conditions in which people seek to verify their own self-evaluations, even if they are not positive.

Questions to consider:

  1. Define self-enhancement theory.
  2. Describe self-verification theory.
  3. The authors conduct an in-depth review of the research, determining that certain goals or “strivings” (e.g., cognitive) influence whether people are likely to engage in self-enhancement or verification. Describe their findings.