Implicit self-esteem: nature, measurement, and a new way forward. Academic Article uri icon


  • Gaining insight into the nature and consequences of people's global self-evaluations (i.e., their self-esteem) has been fraught with difficulty. Nearly 2 decades ago, researchers suggested that such difficulties might be addressed by the development of a new class of measures designed to uncover implicit self-esteem. In this article, we evaluate the construct validity of the 2 most common measures of implicit self-esteem, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and Name-Letter Test (NLT). Our review indicates that the research literature has not provided strong or consistent support for the validity of either measure. We conclude that both tests are impoverished measures of self-esteem that are better understood as measures of either generalized implicit affect (IAT) or implicit egotism (NLT). However, we suggest that there surely are aspects of self-esteem that people are unwilling or unable to report and suggest a general approach that may allow researchers to tap these unspoken aspects of self-esteem.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Buhrmester, M. D., Blanton, H., & Swann, W. B.

citation count

  • 182

complete list of authors

  • Buhrmester, Michael D||Blanton, Hart||Swann, William B

publication date

  • February 2011