Self Esteem

How is it defined?

Self-esteem is most broadly defined as one's positive or negative evaluation toward the self (Rosenberg, Schooler, Schoenbach, & Rosenberg, 1995). Positive self-esteem is associated with favorable school outcomes and plays a vital role in one’s health and well-being (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003; Robins, Trzesniewski, & Donnellan, 2012).

The Learning Bar’s framework on social-emotional outcomes includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. In addition, measures of emotional health include anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

Why is it important?

  • Self-esteem and academic achievement are positively correlated (Baumeister et al., 2003).
  • Students with high self-esteem are more inclined to become active participants in the classroom (Burnett, 1998).
  • Adolesents with high self-esteem have better long-term outcomes including better graduation rates (Trzesniewski, et al., 2006). 

How do we measure it?

In the Tell Them From Me® secondary school survey, students are asked questions regarding their self-esteem from the Self Description Questionnaire (SDQ II) developed by Herbert Marsh and used with permission. The data are scaled on a 10-point scale, and students with a score greater than or equal to 6 (i.e., slightly higher than neutral) are considered to have a ‘positive self-esteem’. The results are reported as “the percentage of students with positive self-esteem”.



Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D. (2003). Does high self-esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness, or healthier lifestyles? Psychological Science in the Public Interest4(1), 1-44.

Burnett, P. C. (1998). Measuring behavioral indicators of self-esteem in the classroom. The Journal of Humanistic Education and Development37(2), 107-116.

Robins, R. W., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Donnellan, M. B. (2012). A brief primer on self-esteem. The Prevention Researcher19(2), 3-7.

Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C., Schoenbach, C., & Rosenberg, F. (1995). Global self-esteem and specific self-esteem: Different concepts, different outcomes. American Sociological Review, 60(1), 141-156.

Trzesniewski, K. H., Donnellan, M. B., Moffitt, T. E., Robins, R. W., Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (2006). Low self-esteem during adolescence predicts poor health, criminal behavior, and limited economic prospects during adulthood. Developmental Psychology42(2), 381-390.