Identifying the sources of self-esteem: The mixed medley of benevolence, merit, and bias

Virginia S.Y. Kwan, Lu Lu Kuang, Natalie H.H. Hui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Two studies identified three major sources of self-esteem: benevolence, merit, and bias. Individuals may report having high self-esteem because: (a) they have a positive attributional style, perceiving themselves and others positively (i.e., high benevolence); (b) they have significant accomplishments (i.e., high merit); and/or (c) they have an overly positive view of themselves (i.e., a self-positivity bias). Each source predicts self-esteem jointly and independently in both the USA and China, suggesting that the process in deriving one's self-esteem may be similar across cultures. Cultural differences emerge in the relative importance of the three sources in predicting self-esteem. The present research helps shed light on the nature of self-esteem and its conflicting relationships with adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-195
Number of pages20
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Compassion
  • Culture
  • Narcissism
  • Self-esteem
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying the sources of self-esteem: The mixed medley of benevolence, merit, and bias'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this