Publication Type

PhD Dissertation

Publication Date



Self-esteem occupies an esteemed position in psychological research, but the self-esteem scholarship has often raised more questions than it has answered. Recent alternative approaches to self-esteem have made decent strides in resolving the mixed findings abound in the literature, such as a call for greater focus on self-esteem’s functionality and domain-specific components of self-esteem. However, the lack of a well-grounded, parsimonious theory of self-esteem has kept these proximate theories and findings disparate and our overall understanding of self-esteem incomplete. The current dissertation sought to address these issues by developing a model of self-esteem based on the evolutionarily driven sociometer and life history theories such that important, unanswered issues concerning self-esteem research might be parsimoniously addressed, including what domains should affect self-esteem, how domains might be prioritized, and how our self-worth or value in those domains is managed. In particular, life history theory may answer these questions and also offer a way of mapping other classifications of life domains meaningfully according to two fundamental strategies, specifically mating versus somatic effort. According to the proposed model, life history determines the domains in life that a person may prioritize, and self-esteem hinges on his or her worth or value in those prioritized domains. The current dissertation also developed and tested a measure that specifies how people will respond to either low or high value in the domains they prioritize, which can resolve questions about when people will exert effort to self-enhance or self-protect, or reduce effort and devalue the domain. Two studies served as an introductory investigation of the theoretical propositions of the current work and the findings were discussed in light of the predictions made. Overall, the current research extends our understanding of self-esteem and provided some evidence for the ideas proposed. Possible improvements to the current investigation are suggested in the discussion.


evolutionary psychology, self-esteem, sociometer, psychological well being, life custory strategy

Degree Awarded

PhD in Psychology


Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology


LI, Pin Cheng Norman


Singapore Management University


Singapore Management University

City or Country


Copyright Owner and License

Singapore Management University

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.