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Identifying the Sources of Self-esteem: The Mixed Medley of Benevolence, Merit, and Bias

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Two studies identified three major sources of self-esteem: benevolence, merit, and bias. Individuals may report having high self-esteem because: (a) they have a positive attributional style, perceiving themselves and others positively (i.e., high benevolence); (b) they have significant accomplishments (i.e., high merit); and/or (c) they have an overly positive view of themselves (i.e., a self-positivity bias). Each source predicts self-esteem jointly and independently in both the USA and China, suggesting that the process in deriving one's self-esteem may be similar across cultures. Cultural differences emerge in the relative importance of the three sources in predicting self-esteem. The present research helps shed light on the nature of self-esteem and its conflicting relationships with adjustment.
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Keywords: Compassion; Culture; Narcissism; Self-esteem; Well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA 2: Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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