What is SelfEsteem
Selfesteem positive or negative overall evaluations you have of yourself
Trait selfesteem enduring level of confidence and affection that people have for their defining abilities and
characteristics across time
State selfesteem dynamic, changeable selfevaluations that are experienced as momentary
Feelings about the self
Rosenberg’s SelfEsteem Scale: it is a 4 number scale that has Strongly agree to disagree. And then you have 10
questions. 5 that are positive regarding oneself and 5 that are negative. To determine the scoring, you first reverse
the scoring of the five negatively worded items and then add up your scores across the 10 times your total score
should be between 030 and the higher number indicates higher SE.
Motivations for SelfEnhancement:
• Selfenhancement is a motivation to focus on and elaborate more about one’s strengths and positive
characteristics than on one’s weaknesses and negative characteristics.
• Many studies demonstrate that this is a powerful motivation that used to be viewed as universal. Crosscultural
research reveals that it’s a motivation that’s more pronounced in Western cultures than elsewhere.
Evidence for North American SelfEnhancement
• Most North Americans (93%) have high selfesteem. They also show evidence for various selfserving
biases, in which they view themselves in unrealistically positive (i.e. they say their competence is in top 1%
in skill/academics) terms.
• Most North Americans also use various selfesteem maintenance strategies to discount any negative
feedback that they might encounter (i.e. the exam was written bad etc. thus that’s why I did bad)
• Such selfenhancing tendencies are so commonly found in North American samples that they have been
proposed to be mentally healthy ways of viewing the world. Is it culturally universal tendency?
• In East Asian samples, in particular, there is little evidence for selfenhancing motivations, but also little
evidence for problems of mental health.
SelfEsteem and Culture
• Heine et al. conducted a metaanalysis ( a lot of different things were looked at) on all published studies
comparing Westerners and East Asians on various measures of selfenhancement.
• Western Self enhancement effect summary: NA self esteem: some data shows effects other do not ( dot
refer to each study he detected). In some it does show selfenhancing tendency. On avg, statistically larger
then 0 ( it is 0.86). Overall, NA are indeed self enhancing as increase average value
• Even Japanese have some tendency ( i.e. some dots of some research’s are above 0) BUT IN MOST data,
there is not self enhancement. it is not statistically significant, it is 0, thus they do not show, on average, any
self enhancement. (very weak)
• To summarize, there are large cultural differences in selfenhancement motivations. Whereas Westerners
show consistent and strong evidence for selfenhancement, East Asians do not. In many studies, East Asians
show evidence for self criticism
1) Do East Asians Enhance their Groups?
• One alternative explanation is that East Asians enhance their group selves rather than their individual
selves. That is, the motivation to selfenhance is similar across cultures but the target that is enhanced is
SelfEsteem and Culture
Procedure:Two rival universities in Vancouver and in Kyoto were studied to check Se across culture.
• In Vancouver , Heine et al. assessed how UBC and SFU students evaluated both UBC and SFU.
• In Kyoto , Heine et al. assessed how Ritsumeikan and Doshisha students evaluated both Ritsumeikan and
Doshisha. Doshisha is usually in the top ranking in Jap.
• Evaluations of EuroCanadians: Both students from UBC and SFU evaluated UBC more positively than
SFU. However, UBC students viewed the gap between the schools to be much larger than did students from
SFU (UBC student: UBC is better and it is WAY MORE better then SFU) (self enhancing)
• Evaluations of Japanese Both students from Doshisha and Ritsumeikan evaluated Doshisha more positively
than Ritsumeikan. However, Doshisha students viewed the gap between the schools to be smalle ( Doshira student said: we are better school BUT not too much better then Ritsumeikan=not so much self enhancing as
we saw in the previous one) than did students from Ritsumeikan ( these guy will say like Doshisha is WAY
better then our school)
(2) Social Norm vs. True Attitude
• True attitude: Another alternative explanation is that these studies might just tap into what people say, and
not what they really feel.
• Self Norm: Perhaps modesty norms make it difficult for East Asians to express their selfenhancing
feelings. Alternatively, perhaps Westerners learn to describe themselves in terms that are more positive
than they really believe.
• That is, the cultures might have similar selfenhancing motivations, but selfpresentation norms conceal
• Heine conducted a study to investigate whether cultural differences in selfenhancement generalized to their
• Procedure: Canadian and Japanese first completed 20 IQ test items on a computer. They were told that the
second part of the study investigated their ability to make decisions with limited information.
• Half were assigned to receive scores better than the average student, and half were assigned to receive
worse scores. These Participants viewed their performance alongside that of the average student for each of
the individual IQ items, one item at a time.
• They were asked to make a decision about their overall performance (across all 20 items) as soon as a
pattern was evident to them.
Results: Number of Items Needed to Make a Decision
• Canadians needed to view more before being able to conclude that they had done worse (12 items view)
than average than when they concluded they had done better ( 8 item viewed=I did better)
• Japanese showed the opposite pattern. They were more easily convinced that they had done poorly (only
took 9 items) than that they had done well ( took 12 items)
Interface of Culture and Psychology: The Situation Sampling Method
You cannot manipulate culture of a person!!!!! This is the short coming you cannot do this.. If we could do this,
we could see a clear change. Thus natural science is not possible. Thus we could use the situation sampling
• Psychological processes and a cultural system are mutually constitutive.
• Becoming one’s self requires tuning and coordinating one’s responses with prevalent patterns of public
(collective) meaning and situations through cultural practice.
Perception of Self:
• U.S. – Selfenhancement: ↑positive characteristic of the self.
• Japan – Selfcriticism: ↑ selfcritical attitude to meet socially shared standards
Do Cultural Resources Constraint People’s Patterns of Behavior?
Suppress emotion in front of a monk is a Buddhist practice. He left jap and brought his parents. When he took his
father to Disney land, who was a monk. He then smiled. He was amazed as monk was not suppose to. THIS
MEANs that this is context related. Depending on the culture, you may tone your response depending on the
normal/majority cultural views.
The Situation Sampling Method:
How it worksL
1) Asked both people to Come up with situation where you might get High self esteem and low self esteem and
make them very concrete. This was like a mini jap and mini US culture.
2) This is taken and then this situation is given to the next person. These are then asked about how you will feel in
this situation. How much they thought that they will have increase or decrease self esteem if they were in those
The data: how would you feel in US and Jap anecdotes/ situations.
Results: showed a clear interaction btw people and culture resources. Japs in Japs showed negative self
enhancement to japs situation. But the same Japs situation when showed to Japs In US showed less negative
effect. Also Japs in Japs showed some negative self enhancement to American situation. But the same American
situation when showed to Japs In US showed Positive self enhancement. In contrast, American makes you feel good or had high self esteem in both situation.
Mutual Relationships between Culture and Psychology
• Collective constructionist theory
• American Cultural Resources: It reinforces the direction of selfenhancement
• Japanese Cultural Resources: It reinforces the direction of selfcriticism.
• Americans: They tend to hold Independent and autonomous view of self (highly motivated to experience
• Japanese: They tend to hold Interdependent and mutually connected view of self( modest and critical to
nicely fit in.
Where does the cultural difference in selfviews come from?
1) Thinking style: Linear manner: experience good, you feel happy, if you experience bad, you will be unhappy
this is linear and esteem is low. Japanese: the ying and the yang, there is no clear boundary btw +/ and success
vs. failure. This is why, if they ever feel that they are happy, they will think about some bad thing also
(happiness and bad things go hand in hand= dialectical understanding of the world). If they get high esteem,
they start to go down based on this.
2) Independent and interdependent: USà be independent, and thus you have to be confident to take an action.
In contrast, good skill of interaction with other people is favored. You don’t have to be competent others can
help you ( societal message)
3) The lay theory of talents and efforts Everything is genetic/innate ( US). In other nonwestern, strongly value
hard work to change thing (Jap). Because of this you have to focus on problem/insufficient aspect and thus you
cannot improve. Thus being critical of yourself is good.rd
4) The frame of reference US: first person, and Jap: 3 person. Thus, you they can tell a difference btw ideal and
actual self ( last midterm)
5) The expectation of outcomes: you always have to think about both good and the bad. East asian do not take a
lot of risk as they think something bad will happen (promotion or prevention oriented).
6) The relational mobility (Mobile culture vs. Stable culture): The general degree to which individuals in a
society have opportunities to form new relationships and terminate old ones. Thus, higher in relational mobility
mean (in which relationships can be formed and dissolved relatively easily)
SelfHelp and Culture
• This cultural difference extends broadly beyond the kinds of information that is relevant to their selfviews.
• Study: Book Review Research. The reviews of the top 10 fiction and nonfiction books in the US and Japan
were compared. The 8 most helpful reviews for each book were selected. The researchers coded each
review in terms of the amount of positive and negative information that it contained.
• Results: The helpful reviews for American books contained about