Socio-meter Theory

The theory explained in the text is the socio-meter theory of self-esteem. The theory conceives that self-esteem is gauged from interpersonal relationships. In other words, changes in self-esteem occur across interactions with different individuals. It also envisions that people measure their self-esteem according to how they believe other people value and accept them (Leary & Baumeister, 2000). According to this theory, satisfaction in relationships increases individuals’ social inclusion and feelings of belonging, thus raising their self-esteem.  

Research Topic

My peer-reviewed article is on personality and social psychology. The paper presents between self-esteem, relationship satisfaction, and motherhood. The researchers seek to understand how self-esteem and relationship satisfaction changes to mothers entering the phase of motherhood. For this, they developed three objectives to guide the study. The first objective is whether self-esteem and relationship satisfaction develop before and after birth and how they develop. The second one is determining whether self-esteem and relationship satisfaction differ between the first time, the second time, and third-time mothers. The third objective is to assess to what degree other potential factors may account for individual changes in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. Three moderators were identified for the third objective; firstly, personal level covariates (mother’s age, education level, civil status, and employment status).  Secondly are pregnancy-related covariates, which include unplanned pregnancy and preterm birth. Thirdly, they looked at post-birth covariates (gender of the child and child temperament).

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Depending on the objectives, the researchers developed hypotheses for the study. The first question is about how elf-esteem and relationship satisfaction change before and after birth. The researcher predicted an identical trajectory of growth for both variables. The researcher based their assumptions on two previous empirical studies that concluded that self-esteem and relationship satisfaction show a similar course. The two studys  had concluded an increase in the two variables during pregnancy, a sharp decrease just after birth, and a gradual decrease in the following years.

The second question is whether there is a difference in developmental trajectories to various stages of motherhood. The researcher compared the first time, second time, and third time mothers’ change of self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. The prediction was that first-time mothers experience a strong change for both variables. The hypothesis is linked to the adaptation effect where, in this case, mothers recognize and get used to changes that occur before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after birth. The researchers assumed that the adaptation effect is the essential aspect of this objective

The third hypothesis was concerning the third question of to what degree other potential factors (mentioned in paragraph two) accounts for individual differences in change. The predictions were based on the possible factors and how individuals related to each other. For the individual based factors such as employment and education level, the assumption was these factors strongly affects self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. For pregnancy-related factors, they do not strongly affect self-esteem or relationship. Finally, they, too, at a higher degree, involve changes in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction for the post-birth factors.

Research Variables

The dependent variable is self-esteem and relationship (romantic) satisfaction. This variable is being viewed as changing during different phases of motherhood, including before the first pregnancy. The researchers also sought to identify how these two factors’ change is related. The independent variable is the transition to motherhood. The process is characterized by many factors that lead to changes in mothers’ and fathers’ self-esteem and romantic satisfaction. The researchers studied how motherhood experience changes a mother’s self-esteem or the couple’s romantic happiness. The study also seeks to identify the relationship between the two variables, which stage of motherhood is the most affected, and what other factors contribute to these changes.


The participants of the study were pregnant women who had undergone an ultrasound check-up in Norway. Out of the invited women, 41% agreed to participate in the survey (Van Scheppingen et al., 2018). The study was conducted between 1999 and 2008, and women were allowed to participate twice or thrice depending on the number of pregnancies they had during the period. It was completed in five phases during those years. Questionnaires were distributed among the women, and during pregnancy, they filled them at the 18th and 30th weeks of pregnancy. They filled the questionnaires three times; the child is 6, 18, and 36 months of age. Eighty-four thousand seven hundred eleven mothers participated in the study. At the time of pregnancy, 60.5% of women had completed higher education, 90.1% were on paid employment, and 93.6% had a close romantic relationship with their partners (Van Scheppingen et al., 2018).

A survey method was used in the study. Questionnaires with sub-questions based on the three dependent variables were developed and distributed among the participating women. Three variable measurers were used in the questionnaire. The first one, self-esteem, was measured using a four-item version. Some of the answers to choose from that the scale included are; ‘I have a positive attitude towards myself, I feel utterly useless at the time, among other such questions. Respondents were to choose from a four-point Likert scale; strongly disagree to agree strongly. The second variable was relationship satisfaction. Examples of questions were; ‘I am happy with our relationship, I am not in good terms with my partner and such problems where a six- likert scale was used. The third variable was broken into three variables; individual level, pregnancy-related, and post-birth covariates.

The study included mothers’ age, education level, civil status (married or unmarried), and employment status (paid or non-paid) in the individual level variable. Pregnancy-related covariates included unplanned pregnancy and preterm birth. Post-birth covariates included the gender of the child and difficult temperament. Difficult temperament’s questions were like how stubborn the child is. For example, the child cries more hours, and it is easy to handle the child. Generally, all the objectives were divided into sub-questions, and respondents were provided with a four, five, or six scales to choose.


Research Design

The study employed a correlational study design. It described the correlation between self-esteem and romantic relationship and how these factors are influenced by entry to motherhood. In the hypotheses, the study predicted that these two factors follow the same trajectory of change: they both increase and decrease simultaneously. The design was guided by a continuous longitudinal cohort model where the study was conducted between 1999 and 2008 using the same respondents. The study was designed such that respondents were allowed to participate more than once on their first, second, and third pregnancy. The reason was explicitly to explain the second objective of developmental changes in self-esteem and romantic satisfaction during the first, second, and third pregnancies.


Results that were completed by mothers who took part in all the five phases were considered. At the first wave, during the 18th week of pregnancy, the response rate for self-esteem and romantic satisfaction was 99.3% and 97.4%, respectively. At the second wave, the 30th week of pregnancy, self-esteem percent response was 90.4%, while romantic satisfaction was 90.0%. The third wave responses were at six months old and 69.2% self-esteem and 68.3% relationship satisfaction. The fourth wave was at 18 months, where 84.6% and 83.0% responses of self-esteem and relationship satisfaction were recorded. In the last wave (36 months), self-esteem recorded 51.7% responses while relationship satisfaction recorded 51.4% (Van Scheppingen et al., 2018).

To recall on the study’s objectives, the first one was to determine the trajectories of change (before or after childbirth); the second one was to assess the difference in the early and later pregnancies. The third one was to determine the degree to which other moderators affect change in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. In the first objective, self-esteem and relationship satisfaction showed similar declines after childbirth while they differed during pregnancy and around delivery. Even though they followed identical trajectories, self-esteem also declined during pregnancy, and relationship satisfaction remained almost constant during the same period. Thus, pregnancy and childbirth depict a different level of changes in self-esteem ad relationship satisfaction.

The second objective results concluded that the transition from one child to another triggered changes in both variables. During the first child period, an intense negative change was only shown on relationship satisfaction. Also, first-time mothers showed higher levels of self-esteem than second and third-time mothers. Nonetheless, the difference was small. The study concluded that first-time mothers experience the most substantial decline in romantic satisfaction six months after giving birth for relationship satisfaction. This conclusion was identical to other previous studies (Belsky et al., 1983). Also, mothers who participated more than once showed that romantic satisfaction decreases from the first pregnancy to subsequent pregnancies. Thus, relationship satisfaction decreases as children are being added.

Other potential moderators concluded that the largest individual-based factor affecting self-esteem and relationship satisfaction is civil status. Levels of self-esteem were higher when mothers were married or cohabiting than when they were not married. Also, relationship satisfaction for married mothers is higher than those who are not married. Generally, even though small impact for individual-related, pregnancy based, and post-birth related was recorded, the factors did not strongly predict changes in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction during entry to motherhood. However, previous research studies have not included this variable of individual, pregnancy, and post-birth factors. Therefore, there is no literature review for this variable.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study

To start with the strengths, firstly, the researchers were able to come up with a research topic that is current and affecting contemporary society. The issue of self-esteem and relationship satisfaction in marriage has been a negative trend. For this, the study was timely as it also gave some recommendations for women adversely affected by these issues. It is a strength because it was able to research on an everyday thing.

Onto the weaknesses, firstly, the study did not answer the third question of to what degree do potential covariates affect self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. Its results were not qualitative but instead responded with ‘strong and weak’ answers that do not clearly show to what degree. It is a weakness because, in the first place, there is no existing literature review for that question; thus, the study was supposed to answer it fully.

I would improve the study in two ways; first, I would involve women who are not married but are in a romantic relationship, basically, the youths. Their responses would be vital because they could have clearly shown how self-esteem and romantic satisfaction change from engagement to second or third babies. Secondly, I would employ the interviewing method of collecting data alongside the use of questionnaires. Questionnaires do not adequately allow respondents to express themselves. Therefore, I would combine both questionnaires and interviews. Interviewing respondents is crucial because the researcher can focus on their non-verbal communication styles, such as facial expressions, gestures, and body orientation (Qu & Dumay, 2011). Experts in communication say non-verbal communication speaks louder than words (Burgoon et al., n.d). Therefore, results could have been interpreted in a better way.


To sum up, the transition to motherhood is faced by changes in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. The paper has looked at how self-esteem and relationship satisfaction changes and the trajectory they take to change. Secondly, it has explored the differences between mothers’ first and subsequent pregnancies and how their self-esteem and relationship satisfaction are affected during the phases. Thirdly, other potential covariates such as individual-based, pregnancy-related, and post-birth related affect self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. This empirical study is essential as it gives quality results that can be measured and come from people faced by the examined challenges.

On the other hand, the socio-meter theory is essential in this context because it has proven that self-esteem changes across interpersonal relationships. As more children are born in a family, mothers’ self-esteem changes. I can apply this theory in my life when connecting with people. I will know how to maintain my self-esteem across different people in society.


Burgoon, J. K., Dunbar, N. E., & Elkins, A. (n.d.). Analyzing video and Audio Nonverbal dynamics kinesics, proxemics, haptics, and Vocalists. Researching Interactive Communication Behavior: A Sourcebook of Methods and Measures, 35-44.

Leary, M. R., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). The nature and function of self-esteem: Sociometer theory. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Volume 32, 1-62.

Qu, S. Q., & Dumay, J. (2011). Undefined. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management8(3), 238-264.

Van Scheppingen, M. A., Denissen, J. J., Chung, J. M., Tambs, K., & Bleidorn, W. (2018). Self-esteem and relationship satisfaction during the transition to motherhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology114(6), 973-991.