self esteem and personality factors

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A re-investigation into the relationship between personality factors and individuals perceived self esteem beliefs.


This research investigated the relationship between personality factors and an individuals perceived self esteem beliefs, via quantitative data from a one-way independent MANOVA design. The Interpersonal awareness and social interaction questionnaire measured both variables (see appendix ?). An opportunity sample of 162 participants anonymously participated in the study. A one-way independent MANOVA calculation demonstrated a statistically significant main effect between personality and individual self esteem beliefs and represents a large effect size  F(5, 165) = 12.92, p<.001, Wilks’ λ= .71, partial η2 = .293.


The causes, parallels and consequences of high and low self esteem have been widely studied (Baumeister, 1993; Harter, 1998). Self esteem is associated with an individual’s perceived sense of self worth and the value they place upon themselves (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991). Rosenberg (1965), simplified this as having a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards oneself (Cited in John & MacAarthur, 2004). Personality on the other hand is widely measured via the Five Factor Model (FFM) consisting of five primary sub sections being neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness (McCrae & Costa 2003). The FFM represents a widely accepted classification of personality and demonstrates a substantial amount of generalization (McCrae & Costa, 1997, as cited in Farmer et al., 2001). Empirical research is emerging to suggest personality and self esteem are meaningfully associated with particular life experiences (Trzesniewski, et al. n.d).

Personality and self esteem share a common heritability factor with around 30% of variance being explained by genetic discrepancies (Kendler, et al. 1998). These genetic discrepancies determine individual’s temperamental characteristics and thus influence their behavioural tendencies and attitudes regarding themselves. Having common developmental roots and an underlying etiology, therefore, personality and self esteem may influence each other. Various researchers have proposed the idea of self esteem being a crucial factor in the progression of personality processes. In theory low self esteem results in low self confidence and hence decreased activity in social situations, which results in an individual becoming more introverted. This suggests that individuals beliefs regarding themselves influences their behaviour and actions in various situations with a pronounced effect on personality style (as cited in Robins et al. (2001). It seems plausible; therefore, that personality will vary according to self esteem beliefs.

Numerous theories and research have supported this notion establishing a link between the FFM and self esteem with research from Robins et al. (2001) suggesting 34% of the difference in self esteem beliefs result from personality traits. This relationship is apparent from Lewis et al’s. (1980) study where significant positive correlations where found between liking oneself and scales of endurance, nurturance and affiliation. The self esteem construct, therefore, is related to personality desires for altruistic helping behaviour, obtaining and maintaining friendships and persistence in tasks. On the other hand, statistically significant negative correlations were apparent on the scores from the self esteem scale and from scales of aggression. This suggests that low self esteems are related to a personality inclined to attack or harm others, or to implore sympathy, affection and emotional support from others. 

More recently Zhang, (2006) found Individuals who score highly on the neuroticism scale tend to be emotionally instable having a pessimistic outlook with feelings of embarrassment and guilt and as such have lower self esteem. Whereas those high in extraversion tend to be sociable and assertive, high in openness to experience have increased imagination and open-mindedness, high agreeableness individuals tend to be more trusting and high conscientiousness suggests strong feelings of trustworthiness and responsibility all of which could be associated with a high self esteem. In support of Robin et al’s. (2001) results Nurmela (n.d.) found positive correlations between self esteem and agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, however, the correlations between extraversion, agreeableness and self esteem were not supported. It is to be expected, therefore, that a relationship will exist between personality traits and perceived self esteem beliefs.


Method and Design

A quantitative method of a questionnaire was adopted using a one-way independent MANOVA design.

Target Population and Sample

An opportunity sample of 162 participants participated in the study. Variables such as age and gender were not paramount to the investigation and therefore were not recorded.

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The Interpersonal awareness and social interaction questionnaire measured both variables (appendix 16). Personality was measured via the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP; Goldberg, 1999) via 50 closed question statements on a 5 point Likert Scale ranging from 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate). Extroversion was measured from items 1-10, items 11-20 measured Agreeableness, items 21-30 Conscientiousness, items 31-40 Emotional Stability which is the opposite to Neuroticism, with items 41-50 measuring openness to experience. Items 6, 7, 8, 10, 17, 18, 19 and 20, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 48, 49 ...

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