We thank Andreas Nehrlich for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.
Agency-Communion and Self-Esteem Relations Are Moderated by Culture, Religiosity, Age, and Sex: Evidence for the “Self-Centrality Breeds Self-Enhancement” Principle
Article first published online: 20 FEB 2013
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Volume 81, Issue 3, pages 261–275, June 2013
How to Cite
Gebauer, J. E., Wagner, J., Sedikides, C. and Neberich, W. (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: 261–275. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00807.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 20 FEB 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 20 JUL 2012 02:00AM EST
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.
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 supported the unique moderating effect of culture, religiosity, age, and sex on the relation between agency-communion and self-esteem.
Agentic and communal people can both have high self-esteem, depending on self-centrality of agency and communion.