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Measuring Self-Esteem in Context: The Importance of Stability of Self-Esteem in Psychological Functioning


Address correspondence to Michael Kernis, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, or to


Abstract In this article, I report on a research program that has focused on the joint roles of stability and level of self-esteem in various aspects of psychological functioning. Stability of self-esteem refers to the magnitude of short-term fluctuations that people experience in their current, contextually based feelings of self-worth. In contrast, level of self-esteem refers to representations of people's general, or typical, feelings of self-worth. A considerable amount of research reveals that self-esteem stability has predictive value beyond the predictive value of self-esteem level. Moreover, considering self-esteem stability provides one way to distinguish fragile from secure forms of high self-esteem. Results from a number of studies are presented and theoretical implications are discussed.