Self esteem is one’s own feeling of worthyness. In the 1960s, Rosenberg developed a 10 item scale to measure it (Rosenberg, 1965). There is an alternative scale in the survey library as well, namely the State Self Esteem Scale.

This 10-item scale takes only a minute or so to fill in.

The Rosenberg scale is 50 years old, yet still a very popular scale used in a very large number of studies.

The scale was developed based on the data of 5,024 adolescents from American schools (Rosenberg, 1965).

Self esteem is a concept that researchers and people in general find very interesting. This is, for example, reflected in movies about it. Here is a list of 10 popular movies about self esteem.

Issue with scoring

I am writing this library contribution based on secondary literature, I have not had access to the original 1965 book, and I notice that the scoring on scales found on the internet and in a book about personality varies.

In this implementation, I use the description I found on the webstie of Maryland University (where Prof. Rosenberg worked) and a document from York university. In both these descriptions, the total score ranges from 0-30, whereas some scales range it from 10-40. The difference depends on whether the individual items are score from 0 to 3 or 1 to 4.

I think that the total score ranging from 0-30 is the correct way of scoring, given that that is how the University where Professor Rosenberg worked describes it. Ultimately, this only matters when the self esteem score is being compared between studies, but it seems that researchers rarely seem to use the scale in this way, and some studies just score it in the way they seem fit. In the end, the scale is more used for correlational analyses, and then it does not really matter.

Do we really need 10 questions?

The 10 items on the scale are very similar and some researchers argue that just one item instead of ten would be nearly or just as useful (Robins et al., 2001). Robins et al. created a one item (Single Item of Self Esteem, SISE): "I have high self esteem". They scored this on a likert scale from one to five (not very true of me to very true of me).

Read the Robins et al. 2001 paper, they go into various important methodological issues.

Run the demo

The following statement can be found here:

The scale may be used without explicit permission. The author’s family, however, would like to be kept informed of its use:

The Morris Rosenberg Foundation
c/o Department of Sociology
University of Maryland
2112 Art/Soc Building
College Park, MD 20742-1315

And on a link from the University of Maryland, it states:

May I have permission to use the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale in my research?
Dr. Florence Rosenberg, Manny’s wife, has given permission to use the Self-Esteem Scale for educational and professional research. There is no charge associated with the use of this scale in your professional research. However, please be sure to give credit to Dr. Rosenberg when you use the scale by citing his work in publications, papers and reports. We would also appreciate receiving copies of any published works resulting from your research at the University of Maryland address listed below.

How do I cite the scale?
You should cite the scale according to the standards of your discipline. The most appropriate citation is: "Rosenberg, Morris. 1989. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Revised edition. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.


This is a very simple survey with some items on a scale negatively scored.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: agree
- {score=0} strongly agree
- {score=1} agree
- {score=2} disagree
- {score=3} strongly disagree

l: rses
o: width 50%
q: Below is a list of statements dealing with your general feelings about yourself.<br>
<b>Select how much you disagree or agree with them</b>.
t: scale agree
- {reverse} On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
- At times, I think I am no good at all.
- {reverse} I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
- {reverse} I am able to do things as well as most other people.
- I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
- I certainly feel useless at times.
- {reverse} I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
- I wish I could have more respect for myself.
- All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
- {reverse} I take a positive attitude toward myself.

l: extraversion
t: set
- sum $rses

l: feedback
t: info
q: On a scale from 0 to 30, your self-esteem score is {$rses}


  •[Detailed description of scale at the University of Maryland, where Professor Rosenberg worked.[

  • The scale description and a statement about its use.

  • Robins, R.W., Hendin, H.M., and Trzesniewski, K.H. (2001). Measuring Global Self-Esteem: Construct Validation of a Single-Item Measure and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 151-161.

  • Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Rosenberg, M. (1989). Society and the adolescent self- image. Revised edition. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.