Self-esteem, as defined by the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (CSEI), is a personal assessment of one’s self-worth often manifested in personal attitudes and expressions concerning himself or herself. Used as an instrument for measurement of self-esteem, the CSEI typically includes questions that forces the tester to choose the best of several answers that describes himself or herself. Applications of the inventory include individual assessments, classroom assessments, and both before and after assessments to measure changes in self-esteem. As a prominent researcher of self-esteem and its impacts on children, the inventory was first conceptualized by Stanley Coopersmith in 1967. Designed specifically to measure self-esteem in children ages eight to 15, the inventory has been subsequently adapted to adult populations and has even been found to measure other important characteristics aside from self-esteem, especially in adults.
In the field of psychology, self-esteem is considered an important component to good mental health and stability. Linked to a diverse range of domains in psychological research, such exploration of self-esteem is usually examined from two different perspectives: self-construct and self-protection. Many of the domains covered include personality, cognitive functioning, anxiety, depression and behavioral characteristics. Naturally, out of such emphasis on self-esteem as related to many areas of psychological research, the need to accurately measure it brought about the design of many tools in order to do so. Widely accepted and viewed as reliable in professional psychology, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory is used quite often for such purposes.
Using the scale first established by Carl Rodgers, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory was designed to assess one’s general attitude toward himself or herself. Specific contexts are the basis for understanding the attitude of the tester, which may include peers, interests, school and parents. Generally, most forms of the test will have 50 questions, asking whether a statement is similar or dissimilar to the tester’s personality. Two forms of the test are most often used in its original form: the school form for children ages eight to 15 and the adult form for those 16 and older.
Stanley Coopersmith used the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory as an aid in his research on self-esteem, with his research being the primary reasons for developing the assessment. Subsequently, other researchers conclude self-esteem is only one measurement of the assessment, thereby making it complex in nature. Those additional areas include lie detection, anxiety indicators, defensiveness and social ineptness, to name a few. Criticism to the assessment, however, points out that the test uses a self-report approach and therefore is susceptible to socially desirable responses, rather than accurate responses that reflect self-perceptions.