Sweets, sex, or self-esteem? Comparing the value of self-esteem boosts with other pleasant rewards

B.J. Bushman, S.J. Moeller, J. Crocker

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Many people ascribe great value to self-esteem, but how much value? Do people value self-esteem more than other pleasant activities, such as eating sweets and having sex? Two studies of college students (Study 1: N=130; Study 2: N=152) showed that people valued boosts to their self-esteem more than they valued eating a favorite food and engaging in a favorite sexual activity. Study 2 also showed that people valued self-esteem more than they valued drinking alcohol, receiving a paycheck, and seeing a best friend. Both studies found that people who highly valued self-esteem engaged in laboratory tasks to boost their self-esteem. Finally, personality variables interacted with these value ratings. Entitled people thought they were more deserving of all pleasant rewards, even though they did not like them all that much (both studies), and people who highly value self-esteem pursued potentially maladaptive self-image goals, presumably to elevate their self-esteem (Study 2). © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Personality © 2011, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1012
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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