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Self-report manuals by Harter and colleagues now available online!
In order to make our manuals more accessible to colleagues and students, we are now putting them online (in PDF format), for your convenience. Note that this is currently a work in progress, during the fall of 2012, so we ask for your patience.
Please click the tabs at the top of this page to access our lifespan Self-Perception Profiles, Instruments Specific to Young Children, and Other Instruments.
In keeping with the shift from uni-dimensional, single score measures of self constructs, to multi-dimensional instruments that tap different self-concept domains, we have, over the years constructed a life-span battery of multi-dimensional self-report questionnaires. The overarching goal has been to select those self-concept domains that are sensitive to the relevant concerns at each developmental period. These domains change in content and in number at different developmental levels across the life-span, from childhood to late adulthood. In addition to developmentally-relevant domains at each period, beginning in middle childhood we have added a separate subscale to tap global self-worth, synonymous with global self-esteem, an overall perception of one’s worth as a person. Such a perception, that can be verbalized on self-report instruments, is solidly in place by middle childhood and continues throughout the life span. It is a separate judgment, defined by its own set of items on a separate subscale (it is NOT the sum of domain-specific judgments). All subscales employ our “Structured Alternative Response Format”.
In each manual, in addition to the rationale, administration, instructions, and scoring guide, is each actual questionnaire. There are no short forms of these instruments. We have carefully selected the minimum number of items at each developmental period to insure adequate psychometric properties. Researchers can extract given subscales for their own use, as long as they keep given subscales intact. That said, one recommendation is to make a pattern of predictions, just which subscales SHOULD be affected given a particular researcher’s question and which should NOT. That would provide a stronger test of one’s hypotheses and predictions. The value of multi-dimensional instruments lies precisely in thinking about a profile across the domains included in a given instrument, whether it be for groups of participants or for individuals, in the case of educational or clinical assessments.
These instruments have also been found to be very successful in certain intervention programs. They will be most successful IF an intervention is tailored to the domains tapped by a given instrument. There are many constructs that our instruments do not tap (for example, many constructs that have a self prefix, such as self-efficacy, self-regulation, and the list goes on). We have tried to be clear about what our instruments tap and encourage researchers and practitioners to be thoughtful about whether there is truly a match, or whether some other instrument is more appropriate. On the tab titled, “Self-Report Instruments” you will find the instruments we have developed. Several have been revised and updated in 2012.
Finally, we are experiencing an increasingly global or international zeitgeist, where networking across countries and cross-cultural research is encouraged. While I applaud these new communication efforts, we must be prudent in our thinking about how this applies to the use of instruments across cultures (see Harter, 2012, The construction of the self: Developmental and sociocultural foundations, Guiford Press).Our instruments were specifically designed for American children, in terms of the content of the domains, the structure of the instruments, and the question format. They are not necessarily applicable in other countries and cultures. They may not be appropriate and the psychometric properties cannot be guaranteed, as research has indicated. Moreover, the self constructs we assess may not even be important or relevant in other cultures. So I urge people from other countries to think through what self means in their own culture, what self constructs they want to assess, and perhaps turn to other methodologies initially (e.g., open-ended interviews, focus group discussions, etc.) before racing to adopt or perhaps adapt American measures, be they ours or those of others.
Dr. Harter has served as a Professor of Psychology and Head of the Developmental Psychology Program (both graduate and postdoctoral components) at the University of Denver. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, she received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1966, obtaining a joint degree in developmental and child-clinical psychology. She remained at Yale, as the first faculty woman in the Psychology department, accepting a joint faculty appointment in the Psychology Department and the Yale Child Study Center, where she served as Chief Psychologist. She came to the University of Denver in 1974. Her research, focusing on self-esteem, the construction of multiple-selves, false-self behavior, classroom motivation, and emotional development, has been funded by NICHD and by the W. T. Grant Foundation.
Her research has resulted in the development of a battery of assessment instruments that are in wide-spread use in this country and abroad. She has published numerous scholarly articles and chapters, and has summarized much of her recent work in a new book entitled The construction of the self: Developmental and sociocultural foundations. (Guilford Press, 2012). Her most recent interests include a detailed analysis of self-development over childhood and adolescence, self-processes in the classroom, the societal trend to unrealistically enhance the self-esteem and self-concepts of our youth, the role of the self-system in promoting school violence, cross-cultural approaches to the self, a resurrection of the Jamesian I-self, and a search for the authenticity of the self.
Dr. Harter has served on NIMH study sections, including chairing the committee on Cognition, Emotion, and Personality. She has also been a member of several editorial boards (Developmental Psychology, Child Development, Psychological Review, Psychological Bulletin, Development and Psychopathology, and the American Education Research Journal).
She has both a national and international reputation. She has given numerous invited colloquium talks in this country. These include Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Rochester, Brandeis University, University of Colorado, University of Texas, Arizona State University, University of Utah, and University of Florida. On the more global stage, she has given talks at the University of Beijing, The University of Geneva, and has invited addresses at Athens University in Greece, and in the international Self conference in Singapore, where she will receive an award as the Self Researcher of the Year.
Here, at the University of Denver, she has received two major faculty awards, the University Lecturer of the Year, in 1990, and the John Evans Professorship Award in 1993. The latter is the highest scholarly honor the University can bestow upon a faculty member. Both awards are for national and international recognition in one's chosen field of research. In two separate peer-reviewed publications she has been named as one of the 50 most influential developmental psychologists both in the United States and on the international stage.