Low Self-Esteem Sabotages Relationships
September 21, 2002
The finding is
from a study in which people with low self-esteem were fed
false information about their romantic partner. When the participants
were told their partner did not like something about them,
those with low self-esteem tended to decide that the overall
relationship was in jeopardy.
In the eyes of
a person with low self-esteem, the researchers found that
temporary difficulties can threaten the sense of security
in a relationship.
How were the
In the experiments
researchers asked some participants to think about aspects
of their personalities they didn't want to share with their
partners. Those participants with low self-esteem started
to report fewer positive traits in their partners and more
anxiety about their relationship.
used by the researchers was asking another group of participants
how often their partners appeared annoyed with them. The researchers
then informed them, based on their responses, that their partners
were not happy with certain aspects of their personalities
and that this could lead to significant problems down the
What did the
researchers conclude about those with high and low self-esteem?
Those with high
self-esteem became more confident about their partner's affections
after the experiment, while people with low self-esteem questioned
their relationships and inserted more distance into the relationship.
The researchers postulated that those with high self-esteem
were better able to weather the bumps in the road that occur
in every relationship than those with low self-esteem.
of Personality and Social Psychology 2002;83:556-573