Looking again, and harder, for a link between low self-esteem and aggression

Brad J. Bushman, Roy F. Baumeister, Sander Thomaes, Ehri Ryu, Sander Begeer, Stephen West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

136 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent field studies have revived the hypothesis that low self-esteem causes aggression. Accordingly, we reanalyzed the data from a previous experiment and conducted a new experiment to study direct physical aggression in the form of blasting a fellow participant with aversive noise. We also conducted a field study using a measure of indirect aggression in the form of a consequential negative evaluation. High narcissists were more aggressive than others but only when provoked by insult or humiliation and only toward the source of criticism. The combination of high self-esteem and high narcissism produced the highest levels of aggression. These results support the view of aggression as stemming from threatened egotism and are inconsistent with the hypothesis that low self-esteem causes either direct or indirect aggression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-446
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of personality
Volume77
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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