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Self-esteem in action: From direct causality to motive and mediator of self-performative action
University of Copenhagen.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2984-9967
2017 (English)In: Culture & Psychology, ISSN 1354-067X, E-ISSN 1461-7056, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 74-87Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Self-esteem research has been in “crisis” during the last decade, due to the lack of strong, consistent correlations between self-esteem and behavioral outcomes. Some researchers have interpreted this as indicating that self-esteem is inconsequential in many important areas of life. However, the model of direct causality used in correlational research, between a general self-esteem trait and specific behaviors, may be unrealistic. In contrast, this paper develops a model of self-esteem-motivated behaviour as originating from past, current or future (desired) self-concepts. This model shows how an interaction of catalytic factors determines how self-esteem influences behaviour. That is, what “self-esteem” actually “does.” By clarifying the different ways in which self-esteem affects behavior, the model shows that construing self-esteem as a passive variable with direct causal influence on behavior is inadequate and misleading and that previous contradictory results are a consequence of this misconceptualization and subsequent reification of self-esteem. Because self-esteem and the self-concept are inseparable (one is an attitude towards the other) self-esteem-motivated behavior is always about self-construction, and thus performative. Future self-esteem research and theory should therefore focus on how people seek to enact, maintain, or defend a desired identity through performative actions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 23, no 1, p. 74-87
Keywords [en]
Self-esteem, self-concept, causality, behavior, identity, culture, performativity
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-394221DOI: 10.1177/1354067X16650835OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-394221DiVA, id: diva2:1357975
Available from: 2019-10-05 Created: 2019-10-05 Last updated: 2019-10-07

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