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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Validity and reliability evidence for the Rosenberg self-esteem scale with adults in Canada and the United States Ruddell, Robert Jackson


Although the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosenberg, 1989) is the most widely used measure of self-esteem, the evidential basis to support the interpretation and use of the RSES scores with community adults is significantly lacking. Rosenberg (1965) defined self-esteem as the self-appraisal of worthiness of an individual’s socialized identity. In order to support this interpretation of the RSES for use with community adults within a research context, the dimensionality of the RSES scores was examined and the expected relationships with theoretically more related (convergent) and less related (discriminant) constructs were provided as validity evidence in a sample of 1,083 community adults. Utilizing confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), a series of models were tested based on the following emergent themes from the literature: (1) unidimensional, (2) bidimensional with distinct latent variables, representing both positive and negative self-esteem, or (3) unidimensional with method effects due to negatively worded (i.e., reverse-coded) items, positively worded items, or both. Results suggest that once method effects are taken into account, due to negatively worded (i.e., reverse-coded) items, a unidimensional model fit the data best. Convergent and discriminant evidence was examined along a theoretically and empirically expected continuum of constructs from highest to lowest expected absolute magnitude of validity coefficients: self-liking, global self-esteem, self- competence, depression, optimism, mental health functioning, physical health functioning, and narcissism. The obtained convergent and discriminant validity coefficients generally fit with the theoretically and empirically expected continuum and support more of a self-worth interpretation of RSES scores. However, the higher-than-expected correlations with optimism and mental health functioning raise some validity concerns. The results from this study equip researchers with additional evidence to evaluate the degree to which the scores derived from the RSES are indicative of global self-esteem in community adults for use within a research context.

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