Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith)

  • Catherine PotardEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_81-1


Home Parent Defensive Response Mental Health Promotion Separate Score Dichotomous Scale 
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The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (CSEI or SEI; Coopersmith 1981, 1987, 2002) is one of the most commonly used self-report questionnaires designed to measure attitudes toward the self in a variety of areas (family, peers, school, and general social activities) for adolescents and adults. The CSEI consists of 50 items and yields an overall score and four separate scores representing specific aspects of self-esteem, namely, general self, social self-peers, home parents, and school academic (or professional for adult form). A set of additional items constitutes a lie scale (defensive responses; eight items). The CSEI comes in three versions: School Form (for ages 8–15 years, Form A), Adult Form (for ages 16 and above, Form C), and Short Form (Form B). All the versions can be used as a screening or/and diagnostic tool in clinical and in research settings.


The CSEI (Coopersmith 1981, 1987, 2002) is a self-report questionnaire designed to measure attitudes toward the self in a variety of areas (family, peers, school, and general social activities) among young people and adults. This questionnaire constitutes one of the most commonly used assessments of self-esteem in studies and clinical practice (Blascovich and Tomaka 1991). The CSEI was originally aimed at 8–15 years-olds (School Form, Form A), but a revised form was later designed for respondents over 16 years (Adult Form, Form C; Myhill and Lorr 1978; Ryden 1978). In order to adapt the original form for use with adults, 17 of the 58 items were rephrased (e.g., “kids” was replaced by “people,” “school” by “work”). The CSEI consists of 50 items and yields one global score and four separate scores representing more specific aspects of self-esteem: general self, social self-peers, home parents, and school academic (or professional for adult form). Additional items are included to constitute a lie scale (defensive responses; eight items). The CSEI items require the participant to report feelings about the self directly and are typically scored using a dichotomous scale (“like me” vs “unlike me”). Thus CSEI scores can range from 0 to 50, with higher scores reflecting higher self-esteem.

Psychometric Properties

Factor analyses of 58-item CSEI responses showed mainly a large factor (global score) and four conceptually coherent correlated factors (general self, 26 items; social self-peers, 8 items; home parents, 8 items; and school academic, 8 items). However, factor analyses of both versions Forms A and C have been demonstrated to be troublesome. Three, five, or eight empirical factors have been described in the various studies exploring the CSEI’s factor structure (e.g., Coopersmith 1987; Myhill and Lorr 1978; Roberson and Miller 1986). The measure exposes relatively high internal consistency and test-retest reliability. The various forms of the CSEI have an internal consistency coefficient of between .80 and .92 across diverse cultural populations (Coopersmith 2002; Lane et al. 2002; Turan and Tufan 1987). The CSEI was found to have a test-retest reliability of approximately .70 for adolescents (Form A) over periods of 5–156 weeks and .80 for adults (Form C) over periods of 6–58 weeks. Several studies have demonstrated that these factors were significantly correlated highly with other self-esteem-related constructs (e.g., Rosenberg self-esteem scale, Piers-Harris self-concept scale) with more than 0.55. No studies of discriminant validity were encountered. Mostly, validity has been also established by correlations with academic achievement, anxiety, depression, and neuroticism or extraversion (e.g., Lane et al. 2002). Factor structure, validity coefficients, and correlations with some related scales attest to the CSEI’s adequate estimation of both subdomains and global self-esteem.

Short Form

In addition to the standard 58-item scale, a Short Form of the scale (Form B; Coopersmith 1981) is available, which contains just 25 items (drawn from the 50-item scale) and features neither the lie scale nor the subscale scores (Coopersmith 1987; Hills et al. 2007, 2011). Subjected are instructed to respond to statements using the same dichotomous format as the 58-item CSEI. Coopersmith developed this shortened version (SF-CSEI or SEI-SF) as an alternative to the CSEI when time is limited. In theory, Form B is one dimensional (Coopersmith 1987), although its internal validity was not immediately tested. More recently, however, some researchers (Hills et al. 2007, 2011; Potard et al. 2015) have identified a three-factor structure: personal self-esteem, self-esteem derived from parents, and self-esteem derived from peers. None of the studies of the SF-CSEI’s validity have revealed a general self-esteem factor, contrary to what Coopersmith postulated (Coopersmith 1987). The current literature has indicated that the SF-CSEI reported satisfactory reliability and construct validity (with Cronbach’s α ranged from 0.68 to 0.77). The internal structure of the Short Form seems to be emerging around these three clear subscales. The SF-CSEI contributes to ease of administration, scoring, and interpretation.


The CSEI might be a useful tool for easy-to-use measure of self-esteem, but not immune to criticism. Firstly as previously underscored, its factor structure is debated. Secondly, the response format (dichotomous scale) provides relevant information about the attitudes toward self, but respondents cannot express neutral or moderate attitudes. Responses are more likely to be affected by social desirability bias. In the latter case, the lie scale score emphasizes an association between high self-esteem and social conformism. Thirdly, studies (e.g., Chapman and Mullis 2002) suggested a gender bias within items of the SF-CSEI.


Numerous studies have indicated that self-esteem is one of the most important risk and protective factors in the development of mental disorders and social problems (Mann et al. 2004). It is therefore especially appropriate to examine differential influences on specific domains of the self in adolescence and adulthood. The CSEI and the SF-CSEI can be recommended for clinical and educational psychologists, to study the related consequences or antecedents of lower self-esteem among adolescents and adults. Also, self-esteem is widely viewed as a major aspect of mental health and is also associated with recovery after severe illness (Mann et al. 2004). Consequently, self-esteem should be an important focus in health promotion, especially mental health promotion. One of the most popular tools is the CSEI, which is commonly used in health promotion and more particularly in mental health research and promotion. The CSEI is a clear, valid, and reliable self-esteem screening instruments in contexts of prevention and health practice. The SF-CSEI may be appropriate for use in situations where investigators lack the time to administer the standard CSEI but still desire to assess three major sources of self-esteem. In this way, the SF-CSEI can provide multi-outcome perspectives on health promotion (focused on social support, self-perception, or family support).


Self-esteem is a widely used concept in psychology. One of the most popular tools is the CSEI, which is commonly used in clinical research and practice. However, the original version of this questionnaire (58 items) takes 15–20 min to administer, which is too long for some studies. There was a clear need for a shortened version of the standard CSEI for research and practice. Coopersmith (1981) therefore came up with a shortened version (Form B) of his questionnaire, comprising just 25 items. Although the author described this version as a one-dimensional measure, various studies have since contradicted this assumption. The SF-CSEI appears to assess three specific domains of self-esteem (personal, social, and family).



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EA 4638 Psychology Laboratory of the Pays de la LoireUniversity of AngersAngersFrance
  2. 2.University Hospital of ToursToursFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Brendan Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.Wichita State UniversityWichitaUSA