Self-esteem is a widely studied construct in psychology. It has even gained popularity over
time, and spilled into the mainstream media. While it is a widely known concept, it has come to
encompass an array of attitudes, not all of which are accurate (Crocker & Park, 2004). However,
before detailing into an account on self-esteem, we first need to define it. Self-esteem simply put
is the amount of value people put onto themselves. (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger & Vohs,
2003). Hence, individuals with high self-esteem (HSEs) have a positive evaluation of themselves,
whereas individuals with low self-esteem (LSEs) have a negative evaluation of themselves. It is
only a perception, based on an evaluation of his or her characteristics, not on objective measures.
While the idea that HSEs do much better in life than LSEs is attractive and popular, recent
research has shown that HSE does not necessarily lead to success in school, or at work.
(Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger & Vohs, 2003; Crocker & Park, 2004). While HSE does not
necessarily lead to success, HSE is more advantageous in interpersonal relationships. LSEs were
chronically dissatisfied with their romantic relationships (Cavallo, Fitzsimons & Holmes, 2009).
This can be explained by the tendency for LSEs to engage in potentially destructive behaviors like
hostility, avoidance or aggression. (Bellavia & Murray, 2003; Crocker & Park, 2004)
LSE’s lower satisfaction in their romantic relationships compared to HSEs can be
explained by several reasons. Firstly, LSEs yearn for higher levels of acceptance from their
partners, but are less willing to accept positive feedback. They also believe that their partner’s
love is conditional, upon presence of certain positive qualities. Unsure if they possess such
qualities, they do not develop trust towards their partner. LSEs also have self-concept confusion,
leaving them more vulnerable to external sources of stimuli, which can negatively alter their self-
perception. LSEs are also more likely to pursue self-protection instead of intimacy when faced
with relationship threats. Also, having too much of high self esteem, in terms of narcissistic
tendencies is also less likely to bring about satisfaction in relationships.
According to Leary, Tambor, Terdal and Downs (1995) self-esteem serves as a meter
which indicates to the self any signs of social exclusion by judging responses and reactions from
others. This implies that LSEs yearn for higher levels of acceptance than HSEs. People with low
self-esteem want their partners to see them more positively than they see themselves (Murray et
al., 2001). Yet, LSEs continuously underestimate how positively their partners consider them
(Murray, Holmes, & Griffin, 2000). This has a detrimental effect because while LSEs require
more approval, they are also less willing to accept the approval they receive. Hence, this makes
keeps them in a vicious cycle, as they are unable to receive the approval they require.
According to the dependency regulation model proposed by DeHart, Pelham, and Murray
(2004), people are self protective, when it comes to developing attachment towards others.
Therefore, they will only allow themselves to get close and attached to a partner when they feel
that their partner’s love is secure. (Sciangula, & Morry, 2009). However, LSEs are more likely to
believe that that their partner’s acceptance is conditional, whereby they will only be accepted if
they possess positive characteristics. (Baldwin & Sinclair, 1996). Since people believe that others
view of them is congruent to their own views (Swann, Pelham, & Krull, 1989), LSEs end up
projecting their negative views of themselves as their partner’s appraisals (Murray, Holmes,
Griffin, Bellavia, & Rose, 2001). Thus they are less likely to get intimate in...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document