This questionnaire is designed to measure how you feel about yourself. It is not a test, so there are no right or wrong answers.
Please answer each item as carefully and accurately as you can by placing a number by each one as follows:
1 = Never
2 = Rarely
3 = A little of the time
4 = Some of the time
5 = A good part of the time
6 = Most of the time
7 = Always
1. I feel that people would not like me if they really knew
2. I feel that others do things much better than I do.
3. I feel that I am an attractive person.
4. I feel confident in my ability to deal with other people.
5. I feel that I am likely to fail at things I do.
6. I feel that people really like to talk with me.
7. I feel that I am a very competent person.
8. When I am with other people I feel that they are glad I
am with them.
9. I feel that I make a good impression on others.
10. I feel confident that I can begin new relationships if I
11. I feel that I am ugly.
12. I feel that I am a boring person.
13. I feel very nervous when I am with strangers.
14. I feel confident in my ability to learn new things.
15. I feel good about myself.
16. I feel ashamed about myself.
17. I feel inferior to other people.
18. I feel that my friends find me interesting.
19. I feel that I have a good sense of humor.
20. I get angry at myself over the way I am.
21. I feel relaxed meeting new people.
22. I feel that other people are smarter than myself.
23. I do not like myself.
24. I feel confident in my ability to cope with difficult situations.
25. I feel that I am not very likable.
26. My friends value me a lot.
27. I am afraid I will appear stupid to others.
28. I feel that I am an okay person.
29. I feel that I can count on myself to manage things well.
30. I wish I could just disappear when I am around other
31. I feel embarrassed to let others hear my ideas.
32. I feel that I am a nice person.
33. I feel that if I could be more like other people then I
would feel better about myself.
34. I feel that I get pushed around more than others.
35. I feel that people like me.
36. I feel that people have a good time when they are with
37. I feel confident that I can do well in whatever I do.
38. I trust the competence of others more than I trust my
39. I feel that I mess things up.
40. I wish that I were someone else.
The following items must be reversed (1 = 7, 2 = 6, 3 = 5, 4 = 4,5 = 3, 6 = 2, and 7 = 1): 1, 2, 5, 11, 13, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 30,31, 33, 34, 38, 39, and 40.
After reversing these items, add your responses together to obtain your final score.
About the Self-Esteem Rating Scale
Over the past decade or so, there has been an interesting turnabout
regarding how people view self-esteem. Twenty years ago,
the evidence seemed clear that high self-esteem was crucial if
people were to have happy, productive lives. Nowhere was this
belief more influential than in the school system. Research conducted
in the 1960s appeared to prove that school achievement
was influenced more by children’s self-esteem than by their intellectual
ability. These studies inspired educators to do everything
they could to help children feel better about themselves in
the belief that this would help them become better students. As
everyone knows, these programs have become the target of numerous
Research in psychology is always difficult. A typical study may
focus on a handful of variables while, because of practical limitations,
it ignores countless other variables that are potentially important.
This means that virtually any research study is open to
alternative interpretations, and it is up to subsequent researchers
to untangle the myriad possibilities that account for the results
of any one study. I believe this is what happened to the research
regarding the relationship between self-esteem and school
achievement in the 1960s. People were too quick to accept the
results at face value. Before designing school programs that focused
on increasing children’s self-esteem, they would have been
well advised to wait for further research to provide a clearer picture
as to how things really worked.
Had they waited a few years, the educational gurus who
wanted “I am a wonderful person” to be every child’s mantra
would have realized that high self-esteem in a vacuum is not necessarily
a good thing. Children who are praised for their ability
regardless of their work are likely to learn that not much is expected
of them; they would have every reason to feel good about
themselves even if they produce mediocre results. We know that
children are more likely to master difficult material if we comment
on their efforts rather than on their ability. Indeed, psychologist
Carol Dweck found that the performance of students
who were given tasks that were too difficult to complete and were
told that they failed because they did not try hard enough improved
more than students who were given easy tasks in order to
encourage them to feel good about their ability. The moral of
the story is clear—self-esteem should be earned, not provided
Indeed, extremely high self-esteem may be a sign of maladjustment.
We have all known people who think they are the most
wonderful human beings alive, even though their flaws and limitations
are obvious to all who care to take even a cursory look.
Sometimes called defensive high self-esteem, the people with
this quality seem to be capable of putting a positive spin on even
the worst failures. It appears to be the case that people with moderately
high self-esteem are the best adjusted. They generally feel
good about themselves, but they are capable of acknowledging
their flaws and doing something about them.
Now that I’ve vented my frustrations about the view that all
children should be praised unconditionally, let me say that I
have seen a number of clients who suffered terribly from poor
self-esteem. Perhaps one of the most poignant examples was a
graduate student I’ll call Doug. He suffered from intense anxiety
and depression even though his life was going pretty well. Doug
had had a successful academic career, was married to a woman
who loved him, and was a doting, caring father. Yet he was incapable
of articulating anything good about himself. During one
therapy session, I told him I was going no further until he could
say one positive thing about himself. He spent five agitated minutes
mulling over possibilities before he said, “I used to play the
piano well.” When I told him that he had to tell me something
good about himself in the present, he was completely stumped. I
finally gave in and asked him to tell me what his wife would say
about his good qualities. He was able to list several qualities she
would point to, but then immediately dismissed them as unreliable.
After all, Doug’s wife loved him and consequently she could
not be objective. Just as people with defensive high self-esteem
cannot acknowledge any negative information about themselves,
people such as Doug cannot recognize anything positive about
If you scored below the 30th percentile on the Self-Esteem
Rating Scale, you undoubtedly deserve to feel better about yourself.
I do not believe that people should have unequivocally positive
feelings about themselves, but I do believe that almost
everyone deserves to feel generally good about the kind of person
they are. The first piece of evidence that you deserve to feel
better about yourself is that you are reading these words. That
means that you care about becoming a better person, and you
care about how others react to you. And people with modest selfesteem
often make caring, loyal friends. Because they are convinced
of their own inadequacies, they are more than happy to
shift the focus of attention away from themselves onto those
around them. Unless your poor self-esteem has caused you to cut
yourself off from others completely, you probably have several
people in your life who care about you and value the time they
spend with you. That alone shows you have reason to feel good
A second key to feeling better about yourself is to accept that
you do not have to be perfect in order to feel good about yourself.
Poor self-esteem was one of my struggles when I was
younger, and this was a lesson I learned only over time. No, I had
to admit, I was not brilliant, but I came to accept that I was smart
enough to get a Ph.D. and to do my job reasonably well. No, I was
not a Robert Redford clone, but I was presentable enough to entice
an attractive, vivacious woman to marry me. And no, I was
not the most outgoing, entertaining guy around, but I was interesting
enough to develop a valued circle of friends.
It took me many years before I felt generally comfortable with
myself, but you can speed up the process by making a concerted
effort. Make a list of your strengths. Ask your family and friends
for their suggestions. When you find yourself obsessing about
your limitations, get out your list and read it out loud. You can
also use your self-doubts to your advantage. If you are convinced
your negative self-evaluation is justified, do something about it. I
have known students who have a low opinion of their academic
abilities who use their feelings as an excuse for giving up. They
skip class, fail to prepare for tests, and then complain, “See, I just
can’t hack it.” Your self-doubts should motivate you to do your
best. And if your best is still not good enough, you can be sure
that there is something else you can do where your best will be
more than good enough. As long as you do not give up, you can
feel good about yourself. It’s up to you.