Marywood University News

Dr. Ed O'Brien's Research Stands the Test of Time

Standing the test of time, Dr. Edward O’Brien’s thirty-year old research on The Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI) is still widely used, has been cited in research conducted in 37 different countries, and has been translated into eight different languages, including Bulgarian, Dutch, German, Indonesian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, and Swedish. The MSEI is part of a general pattern of research in psychology where concepts and measures developed in the United States are evaluated with regard to their applicability in other parts of the world.

Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1988, The MSEI was published by Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc., based on the dissertation of Dr. Ed O’Brien, professor in the psychology and counseling department at Marywood University, as well as several years of his post-doctoral research. Dr. Sy Epstein at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was the second author of The MSEI publication, and Dr. Epstein served as the dissertation advisor for this project. Psychological Assessment Resources is a highly selective publisher of psychological tests and, during the year when the MSEI was submitted for editorial review, the company accepted only two percent of the manuscripts that authors submitted for possible publication.

The MSEI measures overall or global self-esteem and has subscales that measure aspects of life that Drs. O’Brien and Epstein call “Sources of Self-Esteem,” such as feelings of competence, love worthiness, self-control, moral self-approval, and body acceptance. The MSEI also has subscales that measure a sense of personal identity and defensiveness. The wide multidimensional range of subscales has been cited by many authors as one of the appealing aspects of the MSEI that has led to a wide range of applications in theory, research, and clinical practice.

Dr. O’Brien published an update of a bibliography of the MSEI that recently appeared on the publisher’s web site at Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc. The bibliography, appearing on the MSEI’s 30th anniversary, identified 438 sources that have cited the MSEI in research, theory, and clinical applications. The scientific journal articles that cite the MSEI represent all of the major psychology journals in the areas of clinical, personality, and social psychology.

Since the MSEI was initially based on Dr. O’Brien’s dissertation, the wide use of the MSEI in dissertation research has been of particular interest. The MSEI has been cited in 104 dissertations completed at 71 universities in eleven different countries. Seven dissertations at Marywood University have cited the MSEI, including the dissertation of Mia Bartoletti, the first graduate of the Marywood doctoral program in clinical psychology.

For those interested in how the MSEI has been used, a copy of the bibliography can be downloaded at Webuploads.