Examining the Differential Item Functioning of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale Across Eight Countries1


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    The authors thank Christina Collepardi for her helpful comments on the paper. Charles E. Lance was supported in part by National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant No. R01 DA019460-01A1; National Institute on Aging Grant No. AG15321; and National Cancer Institute Grant No. 5R03CA117470-02.

Lisa Baranik, Department of Psychology, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-3013. E-mail: baranik@uga.edu


We examined the differential item functioning (DIF) of Rosenberg's (1965) Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and compared scores from U.S. participants with those from 7 other countries: Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, and Taiwan. Results indicate that DIF was present in all comparisons. Moreover, controlling for latent self-esteem, participants from individualistic countries had an easier time reporting high self-esteem on self-competence-related items, whereas participants from communal countries had an easier time reporting high self-esteem on self-liking items (Tafarodi & Milne, 2002). After adjusting for DIF, we found larger mean self-esteem differences between the countries than observed scores initially indicated. The suitability of the RSES, and the importance of examining DIF, for cross-cultural research are discussed.