Self-Evaluation Processes: Motives, Information Use, and Self-Esteem


  • Preparation of this article was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral AIDS Training Grant MH 19200 to the first author and by National Institute of Mental Health Grant 42152 to the second author.

should be directed to Shelley E. Taylor, Department of Psychology, 1283 Franz Hall, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1563; E-mail:


ABSTRACT At least three motives guide self-evaluation: accuracy, self-enhancement, and self-improvement. To satisfy these motives, self-evaluation may utilize different information sources. Self-esteem may also moderate self-evaluation strategies. Participants evaluated the frequency and usefulness of eight types of information for meeting the three motives in two life domains: academics and social life. Personal standards information was reported to be used more frequently than objective or social comparison information and also perceived as most useful for meeting all three motives. Individuals low in self-esteem reported using more social comparison information than those high in self-esteem, especially upward social comparison information. Individuals with high self-esteem reported using personal standards information more often than they used social comparison information, while individuals with low self-esteem relied equally often on these two types of information. Discussion focuses on the role social comparison information may have for those with unstable self-concepts.