Analysis of Curvilinear Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Emotional Adjustment

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One component of the theoretical and empirical network for self-esteem is the relationship between self-esteem and adjustment. Empirical support exists for the position that the relationship is linear, with some studies indicating that high self-esteem corresponds to high adjustment and others indicating that the relationship is negative. Some studies have found curvilinear relationships, U-shaped or inverted-U shaped. In a study involving 202 college students, the authors found a U-shaped relationship between selfesteem and emotional adjustment. Self-esteem was measured by the Sliding Person Test of Self-Esteem (SPERT). SPERT scores in the middle self-ideal discrepancy (SID) range were found to correspond not only to lower emotional adjustment, but also to lower self-acceptance and higher anxiety than scores in the small or large SID ranges. The upward swing of the U-shaped graph of the relationship at the large self-ideal discrepany end was attributable to off-campus military students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. These students saw themselves as emotionally and socially well-adjusted and moderately low-anxious, even though they reported a large discrepancy between real and ideal self. The authors conjectured that clearly-defined career goals might account for their acceptance of self and high emotional adjustment in spite of their perceived distance from ideal self.


Author Institution: Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Media, Southern Illinois University ; Department of Guidance and Educational Psychology, Southern Illinois University



The Ohio Journal of Science. v81, n5-6 (September-November, 1981), 253-258