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The Status-Signaling Property of Self-Esteem: The Role of Self-Reported Self-Esteem and Perceived Self-Esteem in Personality Judgments


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Department of Psychology, Oakland University, 212A Pryale Hall, Rochester, MI 48309. Email:



The provision of information appears to be an important feature of self-esteem. The present studies examined whether self-esteem possesses a status-signaling property such that an individual's level of self-esteem is associated with how the individual is perceived by others.


In Study 1, trained judges watched brief videos of 157 participants and rated targets as having higher levels of self-esteem when the targets were believed to possess more positive personality characteristics. Study 2 found that participants (357 targets) were rated as having higher levels of self-esteem when they were given more positive personality evaluations by their friends and family members (1,615 perceivers).


Consistent with the proposed status-signaling model, high levels of self-esteem were generally associated with the perception of positive personality characteristics.


These 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.