Original article:

An implicit theory of self-esteem: The consequences of perceived self-esteem for romantic desirability

Evolutionary Psychology 9(2): 147-180 Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA, virgil@usm.eduErin M. Myers, Department of Psychology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, USA


The provision of information appears to be an important property of self-esteem as evidenced by previous research concerning the status-tracking and status-signaling models of self-esteem. The present studies examine whether there is an implicit theory of self-esteem that leads individuals to assume targets with higher levels of self-esteem possess more desirable characteristics than those with lower levels of self-esteem. Across 6 studies, targets with ostensibly higher levels of self-esteem were generally rated as more attractive and as more desirable relationship partners than those with lower levels of self- esteem. It is important to note, however, that this general trend did not consistently emerge for female targets. Rather, female targets with high self-esteem were often evaluated less positively than those with more moderate levels of self-esteem. The present findings are discussed in the context of an extended informational model of self-esteem consisting of both the status-tracking and status-signaling properties of self-esteem.


self-esteem, implicit, status, attraction, romantic

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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