Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale


Crocker and co-workers’ studies suggest that contingent self-worth is domain-specific. In contrast to researchers who emphasize between-person differences in whether self-esteem is contingent or noncontingent (e.g., Kernis, in press; Deci & Ryan, 1995), these researchers posit that the domain(s) on which self-worth is staked are more important than whether self-worth is, overall, contingent or not. In support of this conclusion, confirmatory factor analyses revealed that a seven-factor model, rather than a one-factor model of contingent self-worth, provided a good fit to the data. Correlations among the contingencies of self-worth suggest that they fall on a continuum from internal to external. Correlations with other measures, such as neuroticism, self-esteem, and narcissism, differ by subscale, with more external contingencies related negatively to well-being and internal contingencies unrelated or even positively related to well-being. Finally, the subscales of the CSW scale predict different behaviors. For example, the academic contingency predicts the number of hours students report studying each week, whereas the appearance contingency predicts the number of hours they report exercising, shopping for clothes, and grooming. [Taken from Dr. Crocker’s ‘Self and Social Motivation Lab’ webpage]


Several recent investigations provide strong evidence for the validity of the contingencies of self-worth scale. For example, it has been demonstrated that the academic CSW predicts a) the magnitude of increases and decreases in college seniors’ self-esteem in response to acceptances and rejections from graduate schools (Crocker, Sommers, & Luhtanen, 2002), b) decreases in self-esteem in response to unexpectedly bad grades (Crocker & Luhtanen, 2003), and c) the experience of academic stress (e.g., time pressure, conflicts with professors) in the freshman year of college (Crocker & Luhtanen, 2003). [Taken from Dr. Crocker’s ‘Self and Social Motivation Lab’ webpage]

Author of Tool:

Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R. K., Cooper, M. L., & Bouvrette, A.

Key references:

Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R. K., Cooper, M. L., & Bouvrette, A. (2003). Contingencies of self-worth in college students: Theory and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 894–908.

Primary use / Purpose:

The Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale is a 35-item measure assesses seven domains hypothesized to be important internal and external sources of self-esteem in previous research and theory: others’ approval, physical appearance, outdoing others in competition, academic competence, family love and support, being a virtuous or moral person, and God’s love. Convergent results indicates that the measure is reliable and valid (Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, & Bouvrette, 2003).

Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale

INSTRUCTIONS: Please respond to each of the following statements by circling your answer using the scale from “1 = Strongly disagree” to “7 = Strongly agree.” If you haven’t experienced the situation described in a particular statement, please answer how you think you would feel if that situation occurred.

1. When I think I look attractive, I feel good about myself.
2. My self-worth is based on God’s love.
3. I feel worthwhile when I perform better than others on a task or skill.
4. My self-esteem is unrelated to how I feel about the way my body looks.
5. Doing something I know is wrong makes me lose my self-respect.
6. I don’t care if other people have a negative opinion about me.
7. Knowing that my family members love me makes me feel good about myself.
8. I feel worthwhile when I have God’s love.
9. I can’t respect myself if others don’t respect me.
10. My self-worth is not influenced by the quality of my relationships with my family members.
11. Whenever I follow my moral principles, my sense of self-respect gets a boost.
12. Knowing that I am better than others on a task raises my self-esteem.
13. My opinion about myself isn’t tied to how well I do in school.
14. I couldn’t respect myself if I didn’t live up to a moral code.
15. I don’t care what other people think of me.
16. When my family members are proud of me, my sense of self-worth increases.
17. My self-esteem is influenced by how attractive I think my face or facial features are.
18. My self-esteem would suffer if I didn’t have God’s love.
19. Doing well in school gives me a sense of self- respect.
20. Doing better than others gives me a sense of self- respect.
21. My sense of self-worth suffers whenever I think I don’t look good.
22. I feel better about myself when I know I’m doing well academically.
23. What others think of me has no effect on what I think about myself.
24. When I don’t feel loved by my family, my self- esteem goes down.
25. My self-worth is affected by how well I do when I am competing with others.
26. My self-esteem goes up when I feel that God loves me.
27. My self-esteem is influenced by my academic performance.
28. My self-esteem would suffer if I did something unethical.
29. It is important to my self-respect that I have a family that cares about me.
30. My self-esteem does not depend on whether or not I feel attractive.
31. When I think that I’m disobeying God, I feel bad about myself.
32. My self-worth is influenced by how well I do on competitive tasks.
33. I feel bad about myself whenever my academic performance is lacking.
34. My self-esteem depends on whether or not I follow my moral/ethical principles.
35. My self-esteem depends on the opinions others hold of me.