Using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

Below you will find a copy of the scale, along with brief instructions for scoring it. A full description of the original scale may be found in the Appendix of Rosenberg's Society and the Adolescent Self-Image (see below for full citation). PLEASE NOTE: The Department of Sociology does not have the resources to answer individual queries about the scale and its use. However, the information below, including the references, should address your questions.

General Information for Using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (SES):

  1. While designed as a Guttman scale, the SES is now commonly scored as a Likert scale. The 10 items are answered on a four point scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

  2. The original sample for which the scale was developed in the 1960s consisted of 5,024 high school juniors and seniors from 10 randomly selected schools in New York State and was scored as a Guttman scale. The scale generally has high reliability: test-retest correlations are typically in the range of .82 to .88, and Cronbach's alpha for various samples are in the range of .77 to .88 (see Blascovich and Tomaka, 1993 and Rosenberg, 1986 for further detail). Studies have demonstrated both a unidimensional and a two-factor (self-confidence and self-deprecation)structure to the scale. To obtain norms for a sample similar to your own, you must search the academic literature to find research using similar samples.

  3. To score the items, assign a value to each of the 10 items as follows:

    • For items 1,2,4,6,7: Strongly Agree=3, Agree=2, Disagree=1, and Strongly Disagree=0.

    • For items 3,5,8,9,10 (which are reversed in valence, and noted with the asterisks** below): Strongly Agree=0, Agree=1, Disagree=2, and Strongly Disagree=3.

  4. The scale ranges from 0-30, with 30 indicating the highest score possible. Other scoring options are possible. For example, you can assign values 1-4 rather than 0-3; then scores will range from 10-40. Some researchers use 5- or 7-point Likert scales, and again, scale ranges would vary based on the addition of "middle" categories of agreement.

Present the items with these instructions. Do not print the asterisks on the sheet you provide to respondents.

 

BELOW IS A LIST OF STATEMENTS DEALING WITH YOUR GENERAL FEELINGS ABOUT YOURSELF. IF YOU STRONGLY AGREE, CIRCLE SA. IF YOU AGREE WITH THE STATEMENT, CIRCLE A. IF YOU DISAGREE, CIRCLE D. IF YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE, CIRCLE SD.

References with further characteristics or discussion of the scale and its derivatives: 

  • Blascovich, Jim and Joseph Tomaka. 1993. "Measures of Self-Esteem." Pp. 115-160 in J.P. Robinson, P.R. Shaver, and L.S. Wrightsman (eds.), Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes. Third Edition. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research. 
  • Owens, Timothy J. 1994. "Two Dimensions of Self-Esteem: Reciprocal Effects of Positive Self-Worth and Self-Deprecation on Adolescent Problems." American Sociological Review. 59:391-407. 
  • Owens, Timothy J. 1993. "Accentuate the Positive - and the Negative: Rethinking the Use of Self-Esteem, Self-Deprecation, and Self-Confidence." Social Psychology Quarterly. 56:288-99. 
  • Owens, Timothy J. 2001. Extending Self-Esteem Theory and Research. Cambridge: University Press. 
  • Rosenberg, Morris. 1965. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (Chapter 2 discusses construct validity.)
  • Rosenberg, Morris. 1986. Conceiving the Self. Krieger: Malabar, FL.
  • Silber, E. and Tippett, Jean 1965. "Self-esteem: Clinical assessment and measurement validation." Psychological Reports, 16, 1017-1071. (Discusses multitrait-multimethod investigation using RSE).
  • Wells, L. Edward and Gerald Marwell. 1976. Self-Esteem: Its Conceptualization and Measurement. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • Wylie, Ruth C. 1974. The Self-Concept (especially pp. 180-189.) Revised Edition. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press

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