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Critique: Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory

You are a middle school counselor who is starting a new group aimed at enhancing self-concept
in students. You work at a large urban school with a culturally and linguistically diverse
population of students. You have heard about the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI), but
you’re not sure if it’s the appropriate instrument to use.

After reviewing information below about the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI), answer
the questions that follow.


The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI; Coopersmith, 1981) measures evaluative attitudes
toward the self in social, academic, family, and personal areas of experience. Coopersmith
defined self-esteem as a judgment of worthiness that is expressed by the attitudes he or she holds
toward the self. He believes that self-esteem is significantly associated with effective
functioning, such as school performance.

Each questionnaire presents respondents with generally favorable or generally unfavorable

statements about the self, which they indicate as “like me” or “unlike me.” The School Form is a
50-item inventory designed for 8- to 15-year-old children. It has provides a Total Self Score as
well as scores on four subscales: General Self (Gen), Social Self/Peers (Soc), Home/Parents (H),
and School/Academic (Sch). The School Form is accompanied by an 8-item Lie Scale to assess
defensiveness. The School Short Form is comprised of 25 items from the School Form. The
Adult Form is an adaptation of the School Short Form for individuals over 15 years of age.

Administration time rarely exceeds 10 minutes. The instrument can be hand scored in a few
minute using scoring keys. For interpretation, high scores correspond to high self-esteem. A high
Lie scale score suggests defensiveness (indicates that the test taker attempted to respond
positively to all items).

Technical Information

Norm Group: The SEI was administered to 643 public school children in grades 3 through 8.
The sample consisted primarily of students from the lower and middle upper socioeconomic
ranges. The test manual stated that, “a considerable number of Spanish surnamed and Black
children were included in the sample.” The manual strongly recommends that users develop local
norm groups.


Test-retest: The test-retest reliability coefficient after a 5 week interval (with a sample of 30 5th
graders) was .88. Test-retest reliability after a three year interval (with a sample of 56 public
school children) was .70.

Internal consistency: Studies reported KR20 coefficients ranging from .87 to 92 on scores for
school children in grades 4 to 8.

Alternate forms: A study comparing the SEI to a Canadian version of the test (using a sample of
198 children in 3rd through 6th grades) found correlation coefficients ranging from .71 to .80.


Content Validity Evidence: Most of the items on the SEI School form were adapted from scale
items used by Rogers and Dymond (1954) in their classic study of nondirective psychotherapy;
several original items were also included. All of the statements were worded for use with
children aged eight to ten. Five psychologists sorted the items into two groups—those indicative
of high self-esteem and those indicative of low self-esteem. Items that seemed repetitious or
ambiguous, or about which there was disagreement, were eliminated.

Concurrent Validity Evidence: SEI scores correlated with the SRA Achievement Series and the
Lorge Thorndike Intelligence Test at .33 and .30 respectively.

Predictive Validity Evidence: Reading Gifted Evaluation Scale (a measure of reading

achievement) scores correlated with the SEI General Self Subscale and Lie Scale scores at .35
and .39 respectively.

Convergent validity Evidence: Correlation between SEI scores and the California
Psychological Inventory Self-Acceptance Scale was .45.

Subscale Intercorrelations (internal structure):

General Self Social Self- Home-Parents School- Lie Scale*

Peers Academic
General Self ― .49 .52 .42 -.02
Social Self-Peers ― .28 .29 -.09
Home-Parents ― .45 -.04
School-Academic ― -.12


1. Describe and evaluate the norm group. Do you think it is representative? Do you think
the norm group is current? Do you believe the size of the norm group was large enough?
Is the sample related to the population you intend to use the test with? Explain.

The norm group used in this instrument consists of 643 public school children in grades 3

through 8. The SES of these students was from low, to middle upper socioeconomic ranges. I

believe the norm group is representative and current. I do believe the size of the norm group

wasn’t too large so an updated norm group would be beneficial. The population I now work with

is High School students. This instruments intended use is for students grade 3-8 and in adult

form. I would use this instrument with my students because its adult version/form is

developmentally appropriate for use with High School Students.

2. Describe and evaluate each method used to estimate reliability. Does the reliability
evidence support a decision to use the instrument? Explain.

The methods used to estimate reliability are Test-retest, internal consistency, and alternate forms.

I think this was a great starting point in assessing the instruments reliability. There was allotting

of work put into this instrument from my research on its origins. Most of my research suggested

that that this instrument was tested with students from the Philippines. I haven’t found any

research suggesting a norm group, test-retest, internal consistency, and alternate forms of

students from the United States. Hopefully some updates are conducted so we can truly see how

this assessment measures up with normal American children and adults.

3. Describe the practical aspects of the instrument.

The practical aspects of this instrument rest on the fact that I can administer the assessment and

receive feedback within minutes. I personally took the assessment online and received instant

results upon completion (2 minutes time). I think this will be beneficial for me as a school

counselor because I don’t have much time to visit with my students. Using an instrument like this

can help me identify problematic areas and help the student work through them.

4. Summarize the strengths and weakness of the inventory.

One of the strengths of this instrument is that it is both valid and reliable with use in children

ages 8-10 and adults. This is extremely important because it is developmentally appropriate in

use with children in the later stages of elementary school as well as adults in the secondary and

post secondary areas. Another strength in this instrument is that it its norm group is current and

was of an adequate sample size. As of 2015 this instrument has been used by thousands of

students nationwide. Another very important factor in this instrument is how fast and easy it is to

administer. I took the assessment myself and I completed it within 2 minutes. After 2 minutes of

taking the assessment I was given a score that informed me how my self-esteem compares to that

of others. I think this is very useful because I can have a student complete the assessment in a

very short amount of time then explore the students results in individual counseling sessions.

5. Based on your review of the SII, would you adopt this instrument? Explain your answer.

Based on the review of the SII, I would adopt this instrument into my school-counseling

program. As a school counselor I understand that instruments serve as valuable tools for

professionals in my occupation. We use these instruments to help us empower our students and

advocate for our students unique needs. An instrument like the SII can provide my students and

me with valuable information about the students attitudes toward self, others, academia, and

particular personal aspects of their lives. Knowing and highlighting some of these responses can

help us identify underlying issues, as well as irrational beliefs/dysfunctional thoughts that may be

hindering the students’ progress/ achievement.

Coopersmith, S. (1981). Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventories: Manual. Menlo Park, CA: Mind
Garden, Inc.