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Culture, cognition and behavior in the pursuit of self-esteem
University of Copenhagen.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2984-9967
2016 (English)In: Poetics (Amsterdam. Print), ISSN 0304-422X, E-ISSN 1872-7514, Vol. 54, p. 14-24Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Self-esteem research, arguably the largest field of research in the history of social science, has devoted much of its efforts to the idea that self-esteem causes a broad range of behavioral and social problems, but has failed to produce strong, consistent evidence for most claims. However, this research has conceptual and methodological problems, including a limited understanding of the role of culture, and the assumption that global levels of self-esteem are the main causal mechanism of interest. This paper argues that self-esteem motivated behavior may be better understood as socio-culturally contextualized pursuits of valued identities, which are difficult to understand without considering their social and cultural conditions. Self-esteem therefore lies at the intersection of culture and cognition, and it is argued that an interdisciplinary approach to self-esteem pursuits could be beneficial. A way to reconcile constructionist views of identity with a cognitive self is then suggested and discussed. It is possible, by drawing on models of neurocognition, to think of a cognitive self as performed, context-dependent, and emergent rather than fixed, internal, and expressed. Finally, the paper discusses the social contingencies and consequences of self-esteem pursuits in relation to research issues such as aggression, stratification, crime, masculinity, and political attitudes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 54, p. 14-24
Keywords [en]
Cognitive sociology; Culture; Cognition; Self-esteem; Identity; Interdisciplinary theory
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-394220DOI: 10.1016/j.poetic.2015.08.007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-394220DiVA, id: diva2:1357974
Available from: 2019-10-05 Created: 2019-10-05 Last updated: 2019-10-07

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Strandell, Jacob
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