Psychological Reports, 1990, 66, 1147-1151. O Psychological Reports 1990


Unzuersio of North Alabama Summary.-69 women and 42 men responded to the Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory, the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale, and the Famous Sayings test. Also, subjects rated their happiness using a L i e r t scale. Men scored significantly higher than did women on the UCLA Loneliness, Hostility, and Psychological Reactance measures, and lower on the Conventional Mores and Social Acquiescence measures. Loneliness scores positively correlated with Psychological Reactance scores and negatively with Self-esteem and Conventional Mores scores and with happiness self-ratings for both sexes. Men who scored higher on Psychological Reactance tended to score lower on Conventional Mores. Happiness ratings correlated negatively with Psychological Reactance for all subjects and positively with Conventional Mores for men subjects only. Women's self-esteem scores correlated positively with self-ratings of happiness and negatively with Psychological Reactance, Hostility, and Fear of Failure. F i n d y , women's Psychological Reactance scores correlated positively with those on Bass's Fear of Failure scale.

Self-esteem is the product of an implicit evaluation of self-approval or self-disapproval which an individual makes and maintains regarding himself. It is a personal judgment of general worthiness; one that is likely, then, to be translated into more specific attitudes regarding one's qualities, as well as related behaviors. There is considerable evidence that these positive or negative self-evaluations may have specific consequences that extend beyond this mere act of self-appraisal. For example, people who are low in self-esteem are more likely to describe themselves as "lonely" (Shaver & Rubenstein, 19801, "shy" (Zimbardo, 1977), have eating disorders (Mintz & Betz, 1988), be depressed (Battle, 1987), dislike their given names (Striimpfer, 1978), and are less likely to be adventurous in performance activities (Coopersmith, 1967). The Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1984) has facihtated research into the variables that affect self-esteem. Psychological reactance (Brehm, 1966) is a motivational drive directed toward the reestablishment of personal freedom when it is threatened or constrained. Recently Hong and Page (1989) have proposed that it is an enduring personality trait that is measurable and developed an instrument to do so. Since persons higher in self-esteem tend to be less retreatist in their responses in many situations, it seems reasonable that they would also be 'The author thanks Dr. S. M. Hong for permission to use the Hong Psychological Reactance scale. This research was funded by a University of North Alabama research grant. Please address all requests for reprints to Charles E. Joubert, Box 5255, Florence, AL 35632.



more likely to defend themselves from perceived threats to their freedom should they chance to arise. Psychological reactance behaviors may also impact on the experience of loneliness. When individuals perceive that their freedom of choice is constrained by others' actions, they may sometimes respond in ways that may provoke feelings of antagonism on the part of the recipients of that response and sometimes by observers as well. In other words, people that are higher in a psychological reactance trait or behaviors may become functional aversive stimuli to others. This would in turn lead to circumstances that would isolate that person, who would then experience loneliness. O n the other hand, individuals who have more conventional and acquiescent tendencies should be more accepted and be less lonely. The inverse relationship between loneliness and high self-esteem has already been noted (Shaver & Rubenstein, 1780). I t is possible that persons who are quite high in reactance might experience loneliness despite their having the higher self-esteem that was earlier hypothesized as likely to relate to reactance. An additional purpose of this investigation was to observe whether these self-esteem and psychological reactance traits might have relationships with certain social motives such as those measured on Bass's Famous Sayings (1758). The Famous Sayings is a disguised personality inventory with measures of Conventional Mores, Fear of Failure, Social Acquiescence, and Hostility. We predicted that self-esteem would be inversely related to Hostility, Fear of Failure, and Social Acquiescence. Also, since Conventional Mores was described as related to conformity, conventionality, and humility traits and Social Acquiescence to a trait of being uncritical (Bass, 1758), we predicted that Psychological Reactance scores would negatively correlate with measures of these two traits. Finally, this research attempted to explore possible correlations between the subjective experience of happiness and each of these variables. Intuitively, it seems likely that self-ratings of happiness would positively correlate with a self-esteem measure and negatively correlate with one of loneliness.

METHOD The subjects were 42 men and 67 women who were undergraduates in general psychology classes at a southern US university located in a metropolitan area of about 80,000 population. They were mostly of traditional college age with about 70% Caucasians and about 65% freshmen. Their participation was voluntary and done under conditions of anonymity. Also, five men and four women were eliminated because they failed to complete all of the scales. The subjects responded to the adult version of the Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1981), the Revised UCLA Loneliness



Scale (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980), the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale (Hong & Page, 1989), and the Famous Sayings (Bass, 1958). Also, each person was asked to estimate his degree of being happy on a nine-point Likert scale (9: extremely happy, 1: extremely unhappy). Table 1 presents separately by sex the means and standard deviations for the different traits that were measured. Men scored higher than did women on the Loneliness, Psychological Reactance, and Hostility scales while women scored higher than did men on the Conventional Mores and Social Acquiescence scales. Because of the small size of the samples, it is appropriate to be cautious about the meaning of these results. We may speculate that the significant sex differences on these scales probably reflects subjects' socializations into dominant sex-roles which tend to value these traits differently in men and women. Local mores generally seem to permit more latitude in displays of hostility and reactance by men than by women and these differences seem to be reflected here. Since Hong and Page (1989) and Hong (1990) did not report sex differences in reactance, some research is needed to judge whether these observed sex differences in this reactance tendency occur also in other US samples. The higher women's means on Social Acquiescence and Conventional Mores scales and the higher men's means on the UCLA Loneliness scale exactly replicates the previous results (Joubert, 1989). TABLE 1 MEANSAND STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF VARIABLES SEPARATELY BY SEX,PLUSt RATIOS Variable

Men M







Happiness Loneliness Psychological Reactance Conventional Mores Hostility Fear of Failure Social Acquiescence Self-esteem

The Pearson intercorrelations among the variables are presented separately by sex in Table 2. Scores on the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale correlated positively with Hong Psychological Reactance scale scores and negatively with Conventional Mores and Coopersmith Self-esteem scores for both men and women. Not surprisingly, persons who scored higher in loneliness described themselves as less happy. The significant relationship between



self-esteem and loneliness is similar to earlier findings by Shaver and Rubenstein (1780). Also, the relationship between loneliness scores and scores on the psychological reactance measure is in accord with predictions. These results may be accounted for by the possibility that persons who show greater psychological reactance may choose to express it in ways that antagonize others, while men who are conventional or conforming are better liked. TABLE 2 PEARSON INTERCORRELATIONS AMONGh



Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1. Happiness -.61$ -.28t .07 -.I8 -.02 .14 .52$ 2. Loneliness -.53$ .25* -.26* .15 .07 -.I3 -.49$ 3. Reactance -.44$ .39t -.I5 .17 .41$ .20 -.38$ 4. Conventional Mores .55$ -.38t -.33* .l8 .12 ,353 .17 5. Hostility -.26 .23 .05 -.06 .43$ .37$ .35$ 6. Fear of Failure .04 -.21 .09 .02 .31* .49$ -.33$ 7. Social Acquiescence .08 -.29 .14 ,397 3 .61$ -.I1 8. SeU-esteem .17 -.35* -.I5 .20 -.28 -.12 -.I2 Note.-Correlations for women are in the upper right-hand triangle and correlations for men are in the lower left-hand triangle. * p < .05. t p < .02.$ P C .Dl.

Contrary to expectations, self-esteem scores negatively correlated with scores on Hong's Psychological Reactance Scale for women; however, a similar significant relationship was not observed in the case of men. A possible basis for the women's outcome may be found in their significant positive correlations between the Psychological Reactance and the Fear of Failure and Hostility scales. One possibility is that some of the driving force behind their psychological reactance might result from greater apprehensiveness in situations calling for personal performance. Women who are high in reactance may develop sensitivity to possibilities of threats regarding their freedoms because of similar conditions that caused them originally to develop greater anxiety about failure or to become hostile in the beginning. A possible communality that may be present in each of these cases is the tendency for the possessor to be more disposed to scan the environment for possible threats. Conventional Mores scores correlated negatively with scores on the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale for both men and women. This seems to be accountable for in terms of some of the traits comprising what Bass (1958) described as being measured by the Conventional Mores scale: accepting as given the importance of helping others, being generous and forgiving, maintaining old friendships and establishing new ones. A person translating these beliefs into practice would be better liked and more socially accepted; this should thereby lessen the probability of experiencing significant loneliness.


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There is some MeIihood, however, that more conventional individuals may be less likely to admit being lonely. The predicted inverse relationship between SociaI Acquiescence and Self-esteem did not emerge as expected. This suggests that traits of conformity and social uncriticalness are not particularly related to a low self-concept. It is very likely, then, that persons who exemplify more of these traits do so for normative reasons and not because of some sense of self-deficiency. F i n d y , it should be noted that Social Acquiescence scales positively correlated with scores on the Conventional Mores, Fear of Failure, and Hostility scales, a result consistently found in earlier studies (Bass, 1958; Eisenman & Platt, 1971; Joubert, 1989; Vidulich & Bass, 1959). REFERENCES BASS, B. M. (1958) Famous Sayings tesc: general manual. Psychological Reports, 4, 479-497 (Monogr. Suppl. 6). BATTLE, J. (1987) Relationship between seH-esteem and depression among children. Psychological Reports, 60, 1187-1190. BREHM,J. W. (1966) A theory of psychological reactonce. New York: Academic Press. COOPERSMITH, S. (1967) The antecedents of self-esteem. San Francisco, CA: Freeman. COOPERSMITH, S. (1984) Self-esfeeminventories. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. EISENMAN, R., & PLAT, J. J. (1970) Authoritarianism, creativity, and other correlates of the Famous Sayings tesc. Psychological Reports, 26, 267-271. HONG, S. M. (1990) Effects of sex and church attendance on psychological reactance. Psychologica[ Reports, 66, 494. HONG,S-M., & PAGE,S. (1989) A psychological reactance scale: development, factor structure, and reliability. Psychological Reports, 64, 1323-1326. J O ~ E R TC., E. (1989) The Famous Sayings test: sex differences and some correlations with other variables. Psychological Reports, 64, 763-766. MINTZ, L. B., & BETZ, N. E. (1988) Prevalence and correlates of eating disordered behaviors among undergraduate women. Journal of Counseling psycho lo^, 35, 463-471. RUSSELL,D., PEPMU, L. A,, & CUTRONA, C. E. (1980) The Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 472-480. SHAVER, P., & R ~ E N S T E IC. N , (1980) Childhood attachment experience and adult loneliness. In L. Wheeler (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology. Vol. 1. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Pp. 42-73. STR~PFER D., J. W. (1978) Relationship between attitudes toward one's names and self-esteem. Psychological Reports, 43, 699-702. VIDULICM,R. N., & BASS,B. M. (1960) Relation of selected personality and attitude scales to the Famous Sayings test. Psychological Reports, 7, 259-260. ZIMBARDO, P. (1977) Shyness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Accepted May 8, 1990.

Relationship among self-esteem, psychological reactance, and other personality variables.

69 women and 42 men responded to the Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory, the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale, and...
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