Tennessee Self-Concept Scale

Fitts, W. H. (1965). Manual: Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.


The 100-item Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS) examines self concept as a multidimensional construct that measures internal and external aspects of self concept. Western Psychological Services provides a detailed Test Report for the TSCS. A revised manual (1988) includes information on administration, scoring, norms, psychometric properties, and a review of the literature that includes references to studies using the TSCS. Although questions have been raised about the factor structure of the TSCS, it is the most frequently cited instrument to measure self concept.

Scale Construction:

A large pool of items from other self-concept instruments and self-descriptions was the basis for the internal/external categories of the TSCS. Seven clinical psychologists matched items into each of 15 areas. When all the psychologists agreed on an item, it was included in the appropriate category. There were six items selected for each of the 15 areas. Ten items were selected from the L-Scale of the MMPI.


The original sample consisted of 626 individuals ranging in age from 12 to 68 and from diverse economic, social, and educational levels.


The split-half reliability for the total score on the TSCS was 0.91. The results of additional reliability stud- ies are presented in the manual. Test-retest reliabilities ranged from 0.60 (row variability) to 0.92 (total score and psychosis) over a two-week interval with a sample of 60 university students. Test-retest reliability of the major TSCS scores are provided.

Factor Analysis:

Numerous factor analytic studies have been conducted on the TSCS. A detailed description and summary is presented. Overall, factor analysis yielded eight factors: three internal self (row) subscales (identity, behavior, and self-satisfaction) and five external self (column) subscales (moral-ethical, social, personal, physical, and family). Factor loadings from the confirmatory rotation of internal (row) and external (column) factors are reported.


Content validity was established by the representativeness of the TSCS items and the use of facet-design. In order to establish its convergent and discriminant validity, the TSCS has been correlated with the MMPI, the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule, and other personality scales. The results of the correlations are reported in the manual. Statistically significant correlations are highlighted. Although factor analytic studies support the internal and external aspects of self concept, the 15 facets of self-concept are not supported. Several studies examined the relationship between the TSCS and various outcome variables to establish criterion validity.

Definition of Scales:

Physical Self refers to body, health, physical appearance, skills, and sexuality. Moral-Ethical Self refers to moral worth, relationship to God, satisfaction with religion, and feelings of being a good or bad indi- vidual. Personal Self refers to personal worth, feelings of adequacy, and self-evaluation of the personality. Family Self refers to worth and value as a member of a family. Social Self refers to adequacy and worth with others in social interactions. In addition to these five external aspects of self concept, the TSCS also provides scores on six empirical scales: Defensive Positive (29 items); General Maladjustment (24 items); Psychosis (23 items); Per- sonality Disorder (27 items); Neurosis (27 items); and Personality Integration (25 items). In addition, scores are obtained for Total Conflict, and Number of Deviant Signs. The Total Score is considered to be the most important score because it represents overall self-esteem.

Data Analysis:

Means, standard deviations, and internal consistency reliability for the WPS Test Report Sample are provided.


Allen, J. L. (2010). The effectiveness of group music psychotherapy in improving the self-concept of breast cancer survivors. PhD dissertation, Temple University.

Coleman, J. J. (2010). The effects of participation versus non-participation in interscholastic sports on achievement. EdD dissertation, Trevecca Nazarene University.

Pittman, S. (2009). The impact of parent-training on parent-perceived child disruptive behaviors and parent-perceived self-efficacy. EdD dissertation, Cardinal Stritch University.

Tarquin, K. (2007). Relationships among aspects of student alienation and self concept. PhD dissertation, State University of New York, Buffalo.

Thomas, S. I. (2006). African American adolescent females: An investigation of racial identity, skin color, and self-concept during adolescent development. PhD dissertation, Kent State University.


Completely False = 1; Mostly False = 2; Partly False and Partly True = 3; Mostly True = 4; and Completely True = 5. The TSCS has two scoring modes: the Counseling mode, which includes 14 scores and the Clinical Research mode, which includes 20 scores. Computer scoring is available as well as profiles.

Sample Items

  1. I am a calm and easygoing person.
  2. I have a lot of self-control.
  3. I try to please others, but I don’t overdo it.
  4. I wish I didn’t give up as easily as I do.
  5. I am satisfied with the way I treat other people.
  6. I ought to get along better with other people.
  7. I try to change when I know I’m doing things that are wrong.
  8. I take the blame for things without getting mad.
  9. I try to understand the other fellow’s point of view.
  10. I sometimes use unfair means to get ahead.