Maarit Johnson, porträtt. Foto: Jan Nordén.

Maarit Johnson

Docent, universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 20 12
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 14
Room 14:334
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Maarit Johnson

Associate Professor, Senior lecturer


Main research interests

My research concerns self-esteem, personality, and wellbeing. The work emphasizes a dynamic view of self-esteem functioning with importance for vulnerability and resilience. A major interest in my research project has been developing and validating reliable measurement tools and integrated personality-health models providing deeper understanding of psychosocial health processes. Other interests include psychometric studies of response bias in self-esteem measures.


This research has been supported by grants from The Swedish Research Council 1998-2003, 2005-2009.

Collaborators have been both Ph.D. students and senior researchers from different countries.




A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Maarit Johnson, Shahnaz Rasouli.

    Hostile resentful contra repressive avoidant behaviors, widely associated with different health processes, are considered to arise from people’s specific contingent self-esteem strategies. The present study examines competence-based self-esteem (CBSE), referring to self-critical strivings, and relation-based self-esteem (RBSE), referring to rejection sensitivity and compliance, in three groups of outpatients (n = 85) and healthy controls (n = 37). Patients diagnosed with exhaustion syndromes displayed significantly higher CBSE and RBSE than all other groups. Patients diagnosed with cardiac type of disease showed significantly higher CBSE than those with immunological type of disease and healthy controls, whereas the immunological group reported significantly higher RBSE than the cardiac group and healthy controls. Further, cardiac patients displayed significantly higher CBSE than RBSE, whereas immunological patients reported significantly higher RBSE than CBSE. A discriminant analysis, incorporating the theoretical constituents of the contingent SE scales, showed that the four groups could be predicted by their SE profiles. The systematic patterns found in the present results shed light on the role of self-esteem contingency for differential psychosocial coping and health processes.

  • 2016. Maarit Johnson. Personality and Individual Differences 95, 159-161

    Three explicit self-esteem measures with different conceptualization and item content were compared with regard to their association with implicit self-esteem (SE) and positive self-presentation. The results revealed a pattern where affective–experiential basic SE appears to have more similarity with implicit self-esteem than cognitive–evaluative general SE measures. Basic SE was the only explicit SE measure that predicted significantly implicit self-esteem. Most of the self-presentational styles lacked association with implicit SE and basic SE but played a substantial role for the general SE scales. The results suggest the importance of considering self-report measures potential to tap unbiased self-esteem.

  • 2013. Maarit Johnson. Personality and Individual Differences 55 (5), 622-625

    Self-esteem (SE) scales are particularly susceptible for various response-sets. Systematic response alterations, often mirroring self-presentational item characteristics, can be triggered differentially depending on the content of items in a scale. The present study examined extreme responding to items in the global SE scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and the basic SE scale (Forsman & Johnson, 1996). The results showed that global SE scores were determined to a higher extent by extreme responses, in particular rejecting negative item content, than basic self-esteem scores. The implications of self-presentation contra self-esteem for an asymmetry in response patterns between the two scales are discussed.

  • 2013. Maarit Johnson, Geoffrey R. Patching. Individual Differences Research 11 (2), 44-58

    Researchers examining self-esteem functioning typically consider self-esteem either an affective or competence related trait. However, to capture more precisely the role of self-esteem in behavior we need to view self-esteem both as something people hold and as something they strive for, and determine the relation between these aspects. In the present study the consequences of the dynamic interplay between basic self-esteem and competence related self-esteem for people's ambition when receiving positive and negative feedback were examined (N = 40). The results indicate that differences in basic self-esteem determine whether competence as a source of self-esteem entails realistic or unrealistic ambition strategies. Overall, the results suggest that the relation between self-esteem and competence is hierarchical and asymmetrical, such that competence may enhance a good sense of self-esteem but contribute little if basic self-esteem is impoverished. The present view of self-esteem provides a novel framework for further understanding of self-esteem functioning.

  • 2011. Maarit Johnson. Personality and Individual Differences 51 (2), 178-182

    People with an impoverished basic self-acceptance are compelled to seek external reassurances of their own value and to cope with the threats and challenges of social life by different compensatory behaviours. The present study examines the links between competence based self-esteem (CBSE) and relation based self-esteem (RBSE) (Johnson & Blom, 2007), active and passive maladaptive socio-behavioural styles and health status. The active style was indicated by hostile perfectionistic strivings whereas the passive style was indicated by avoidance and emotion suppression. In a cross-sectional design 284 Swedish adults completed personality and health questionnaires. The results showed that CBSE is a stronger predictor of poor physical health than RBSE and that the relation is primarily mediated by an active toxic style, whereas the role of RBSE for health appears purely indirect, mediated by a passive repressive style. An additional finding was that the two types of contingent SE and socio-behavioural styles were associated with different kinds of health problems.

  • 2011. Victoria Blom, Maarit Johnson, Geoffrey Patching. Individual Differences Research 9, 138-152

    Contingent self-esteem, where one‟s self-value is staked on success and competence, is a particularly vulnerable disposition with impact on well-being. This study compared physiological and behavioral reactivity between individuals self-rated as high and low in competence based self-esteem (N = 61), in a performance situation. To assess reactivity we used a traditional overt measure of blood pressure and a novel, covert, measure of response force. The results show that high scorers in competence based self-esteem exhibited an overall pattern of stronger reactivity as indicated by higher blood pressure and response force as compared to low scorers.

Show all publications by Maarit Johnson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 13, 2018

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