Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale

Author of Tool: 

Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R. K., Cooper, M. L., & Bouvrette, A.

Key references: 

Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R. K., Cooper, M. L., & Bouvrette, A. (2003). Contingencies of self-worth in college students: Theory and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 894–908.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale is a 35-item measure assesses seven domains hypothesized to be important internal and external sources of self-esteem in previous research and theory: others' approval, physical appearance, outdoing others in competition, academic competence, family love and support, being a virtuous or moral person, and God's love. Convergent results indicates that the measure is reliable and valid (Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, & Bouvrette, 2003).


Crocker and co-workers' studies suggest that contingent self-worth is domain-specific. In contrast to researchers who emphasize between-person differences in whether self-esteem is contingent or noncontingent (e.g., Kernis, in press; Deci & Ryan, 1995), these researchers posit that the domain(s) on which self-worth is staked are more important than whether self-worth is, overall, contingent or not. In support of this conclusion, confirmatory factor analyses revealed that a seven-factor model, rather than a one-factor model of contingent self-worth, provided a good fit to the data. Correlations among the contingencies of self-worth suggest that they fall on a continuum from internal to external. Correlations with other measures, such as neuroticism, self-esteem, and narcissism, differ by subscale, with more external contingencies related negatively to well-being and internal contingencies unrelated or even positively related to well-being. Finally, the subscales of the CSW scale predict different behaviors. For example, the academic contingency predicts the number of hours students report studying each week, whereas the appearance contingency predicts the number of hours they report exercising, shopping for clothes, and grooming. [Taken from Dr. Crocker's 'Self and Social Motivation Lab' webpage]


Several recent investigations provide strong evidence for the validity of the contingencies of self-worth scale. For example, it has been demonstrated that the academic CSW predicts a) the magnitude of increases and decreases in college seniors' self-esteem in response to acceptances and rejections from graduate schools (Crocker, Sommers, & Luhtanen, 2002), b) decreases in self-esteem in response to unexpectedly bad grades (Crocker & Luhtanen, 2003), and c) the experience of academic stress (e.g., time pressure, conflicts with professors) in the freshman year of college (Crocker & Luhtanen, 2003). [Taken from Dr. Crocker's 'Self and Social Motivation Lab' webpage]



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