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Agency-communion and self-esteem relations are moderated by culture, religiosity, age, and sex: evidence for the “self-centrality breeds self-enhancement” principle

Record type: Article

OBJECTIVE: Who has high self-esteem? Is it ambitious, competitive, outgoing people-agentic personalities? Or is it caring, honest, understanding people-communal personalities? The literature on agency-communion and self-esteem is sparse, indirect, and inconsistent. Based on William James's theorizing, we propose the "self-centrality breeds self-enhancement" principle. Accordingly, agency will be linked to self-esteem, if agency is self-central. Conversely, communion will be linked to self-esteem, if communion is self-central. But what determines the self-centrality of agency and communion? The literature suggests that agency is self-central in agentic cultures, as well as among nonreligious individuals, men, and younger adults. Communion is self-central in communal cultures, as well as among religious individuals, women, and older adults.

METHOD: This study examined 187,957 people (47% female; mean age?=?37.49 years, SD?=?12.22) from 11 cultures. The large sample size afforded us the opportunity to test simultaneously the effect of all four moderators in a single two-level model (participants nested in cultures).

RESULTS: Results supported the unique moderating effect of culture, religiosity, age, and sex on the relation between agency-communion and self-esteem.

CONCLUSIONS: Agentic and communal people can both have high self-esteem, depending on self-centrality of agency and communion.

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Gebauer, Jochen E., Wagner, Jenny, Sedikides, Constantine and Neberich, Wiebke (2013) Agency-communion and self-esteem relations are moderated by culture, religiosity, age, and sex: evidence for the “self-centrality breeds self-enhancement” principle Journal of Personality, 81, (3), pp. 261-275. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00807.x). (PMID:22812669).

More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 20 February 2013
Published date: June 2013
Keywords: self-esteem, agency, communion, self-centrality, culture
Organisations: Psychology


Local EPrints ID: 352985
ISSN: 0022-3506
PURE UUID: 53c46f78-3aca-4fb7-af15-3fc981349bab

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Date deposited: 22 May 2013 13:41
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:09

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Author: Jochen E. Gebauer
Author: Jenny Wagner
Author: Wiebke Neberich

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