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Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


The relationship between social influence and self-esteem was examined in two studies from the lens of two different theoretical approaches, Leary’s sociometer theory and Henriques’ Unified Theory of Psychology (HUTP). Whereas sociometer theory contends that self-esteem functions completely as a barometer of relational value, HUTP posits that human self-esteem should also be significantly influenced by the cultural context, especially the extent to which self-enhancement is justified. This conception leads to the prediction that socialization will influence self-esteem, after controlling for social influence. Specifically, individuals socialized to self-enhance should demonstrate higher levels of self-esteem after controlling for social influence. Two studies were conducted to examine this prediction. Based on research demonstrating that males are socialized to be more independent and self-enhancing than females, Study 1 compared men and women in the United States, and found, as the HUTP predicted, that after controlling for social influence, men scored higher on a measure of self-esteem than women. The second study compared Americans to Russians, and based on the conception that Americans are more individualistic and Russians more collectivist, it was predicted that Americans would score higher on self-esteem than Russians. This prediction was not supported. Implications and limitations are discussed.

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