Self-esteem has traditionally been thought of as a good thing. However, recent research has begun to paint a more subtle picture of self-esteem suggesting that it is not always necessarily a good thing. High self-esteem can sometimes be accompanied by aggression and verbal defensiveness and researchers now think that it is the security of one's self-esteem as much as its quality that contributes to happiness. A team of researchers at the University of Georgia studied self-esteem in 100 undergraduates. The researchers measured the stability of the students' self-esteem then talked to them about times in their lives when things had gone wrong or they had felt threatened. Those students who were low in self-esteem or who had fragile high self-esteem were more verbally defensive than those whose self-esteem was secure. Those students with secure high self-esteem appeared to accept themselves 'warts and all' and were less likely to become defensive by blaming others and making excuses. The study also found that greater verbal defensiveness was associated with lower psychological well-being and life satisfaction.
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