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Self-esteem

Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent", "I am worthy") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame[1]. 'The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the positive or negative evaluation of the self, is how we feel about it'.[2] A person’s self-concept consists of the beliefs one has about oneself, one’s self-perception, or, as Hamlyn (1983: 241) expresses it, “the picture of oneself”. Baumeister (1997) described self-concept as totally perception which people hold about him/ herself (p. 681). It is not the “facts” about one-self but rather what one believes to be true about one-self (Sarah Mercer, p. 14). Early researchers used self-concept as a descriptive construct, such as ‘I am an athlete’ (Rosenberg 1979).

Recent theories adapted self-esteem with more evaluative statements like ‘I am good at tennis’ (Harter 1996). The latter statement not only describes the self, as the individual identifies herself or himself, but evaluates the self by putting worthiness on it. Therefore, self-esteem is defined as both descriptive and evaluative self-related statements. As a social psychological construct, self-esteem is attractive because researchers have conceptualized it as an influential predictor of relevant outcomes, such as academic achievement (Marsh 1990) or exercise behavior (Hagger et al. 1998). In addition, self-esteem has also been treated as an important outcome due to its close relation with psychological well-being (Marsh 1989). Self-concept (i.e. self-esteem) is widely believed to be composed of more than just perceived competence, and this leads to the relative degree of evaluative and cognitive beliefs of the construct.

Self-esteem is viewed as the most evaluative and affective of the three constructs (Harter, 1999a). Overlay, self-concept is considered as the beliefs about perceived competence and self-evaluative in a specific domain.Self-esteem can apply specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer and I feel happy about that") or have global extent (for example, "I believe I am a bad person, and feel bad about myself in general"). Psychologists[who?] usually regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic ("trait" self-esteem), though normal, short-term variations ("state" self-esteem) also exist.

Synonyms or near-synonyms of self-esteem include: self-worth,[3] self-regard,[4] self-respect,[5][6] and self-integrity. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, "self-love" is "the instinct or desire to promote one's well-being";[7] while La Rochefoucauld considered 'that amour-propre (self-regard) is the mainspring of all human activities'.[8]

Definitions
The original normal definition presents self-esteem as a ratio found by dividing one’s successes in areas of life of importance to a given individual by the failures in them or one’s “success / pretensions”.[9] Problems with this approach come from making self-esteem contingent upon success: this implies inherent instability because failure can occur at any moment.[10] In the mid 1960s, Morris Rosenberg and social-learning theorists defined self-esteem in terms of a stable sense of personal worth or worthiness.[11] Nathaniel Branden in 1969 defined self-esteem as "...the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness". According to Branden, self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence (a feeling of personal capacity) and self-respect (a feeling of personal worth). It exists as a consequence of the implicit judgement that every person does about, on one side, his/her ability to face life's challenges, that is, to understand and solve problems, and, on the other side, his right to achieve happiness, or, in other words, to respect and defend his own interests and needs.[12] This two-factor approach, as some have also called it, provides a balanced definition that seems to be capable of dealing with limits of defining self-esteem primarily in terms of competence or worth alone.[13]

Implicit self-esteem refers to a person's disposition to evaluate themselves positively or negatively in a spontaneous, automatic, or unconscious manner. It contrasts with explicit self-esteem, which entails more conscious and reflective self-evaluation. Both explicit self-esteem and implicit self-esteem are subtypes of self-esteem proper. Implicit self-esteem is assessed using indirect measures of cognitive processing, including the Name Letter Task[14] Such indirect measures are designed to reduce awareness of, or control of, the process of assessment. When used to assess implicit self-esteem, they feature stimuli designed to represent the self, such as personal pronouns (e.g., "I") or characters in one's name.[citation needed]

Measurement
For the purposes of empirical research, psychologists typically assess self-esteem by a self-report inventory yielding a quantitative result. They establish the validity and reliability of the questionnaire prior to its use.

Self-esteem is typically measured as a continuous scale. The Rosenberg (1965) 10-item scores each item on a four-point response system that requires participants to indicate their level of agreement with a series of statements about themselves. The Coopersmith Inventory uses a 50-question battery over a variety of topics and asks subjects whether they rate someone as similar or dissimilar to themselves.[15]

Positive self-esteem
People with a healthy level of self-esteem:[16]

  • firmly believe in certain values and principles, and are ready to defend them even when finding opposition, feeling secure enough to modify them in light of experience.[17]

  • are able to act according to what they think to be the best choice, trusting their own judgment, and not feeling guilty when others don't like their choice.[17]

  • do not lose time worrying excessively about what happened in the past, nor about what could happen in the future. They learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present intensely.[17]

  • fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.[17]

  • consider themselves equal in dignity to others, rather than inferior or superior, while accepting differences in certain talents, personal prestige or financial standing.[17]

  • take for granted that they are an interesting and valuable person for others, at least for those with whom they have a friendship.[17]

  • resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.[17]

  • admit and accept different internal feelings and drives, either positive or negative, revealing those drives to others only when they choose.[17]

  • are able to enjoy a great variety of activities.[17]

  • are sensitive to feelings and needs of others; respect generally accepted social rules, and claim no right or desire to prosper at others' expense.[17]
  • Importance
    Abraham Maslow states that psychological health is not possible unless the essential core of the person is fundamentally accepted, loved and respected by others and by her or his self. Self-esteem allows people to face life with more confidence, benevolence and optimism, and thus easily reach their goals and self-actualize.[12] It allows oneself to be more ambitious, but not with respect to possessions or success, but with respect to what one can experience emotionally, creatively and spiritually. To develop self-esteem is to widen the capacity to be happy; self-esteem allows people to be convinced they deserve happiness.[12] Understanding this is fundamental, and universally beneficial, since the development of positive self-esteem increases the capacity to treat other people with respect, benevolence and goodwill, thus favoring rich interpersonal relationships and avoiding destructive ones.[12] For Erich Fromm, love of others and love of ourselves are not alternatives. On the contrary, an attitude of love toward themselves will be found in all those who are capable of loving others.

    Self-esteem allows creativity at the workplace, and is a specially critical condition for teaching professions.[18]

    José-Vicente Bonet reminds us that the importance of self-esteem is obvious when one realizes that the opposite of it is not the esteem of others, but self-rejection, a characteristic of that state of great unhappiness that we call “depression”.[17] As Freud put it, the depressive has suffered 'an extraordinary diminution in his self-regard, an impoverishment of his ego on a grand scale....He has lost his self-respect'.[19]

    The Yogyakarta Principles, a document on international human rights law addresses the discriminatory attitude toward LGBT peoples that makes their self-esteem low to be subject to human rights violation including human trafficking.[20] and World Health Organization recommends in "Preventing Suicide" published in 2000 that strengthening students' self-esteem is important to protect children and adolescents against mental distress and despondency, enabling them to cope adequately with difficult and stressful life situations.[21]

    Low self-esteem
    Low self-esteem can result from various factors, including a physical appearance or weight, socioeconomic status, or peer pressure or bullying.[22]

    Low self-esteem occasionally leads to suicidal ideation and behaviour. These can include self-imposed isolation, feelings of rejection, dejection, insignificance, and detachment, and increased dissatisfaction with current social relationships. A lack of social support from peers or family tends to create or exacerbate stress on an individual, which can lead to an inability to adjust to current circumstances.[23] Drug abuse and forms of delinquency are common side effects of low self-esteem.[24]

    A person with low self-esteem may show some of the following characteristics:[25]

  • Heavy self-criticism and dissatisfaction.[17]

  • Hypersensitivity to criticism with resentment against critics and feelings of being attacked.[17]

  • Chronic indecision and an exaggerated fear of mistakes.[17]

  • Excessive will to please and unwillingness to displease any petitioner.[17]

  • Perfectionism, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved.[17]

  • Neurotic guilt, dwelling on and exaggerating the magnitude of past mistakes.[17]

  • Floating hostility and general defensiveness and irritability without any proximate cause.[17]

  • Pessimism and a general negative outlook.[17]

  • Envy, invidiousness, or general resentment.[17]
  • References
    1. Baumeister, Roy F., Smart, L. & Boden, J. (1996). "Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of self-esteem". Psychological Review, 103, 5–33.

    2. Baumeister, Roy F. (2001). "Violent Pride: Do people turn violent because of self-hate or self-love?", in Scientific American, 284, No. 4, pages 96–101; April 2001.

    3. Crocker, J., & Park, L. E. (2004). "The costly pursuit of self-esteem". Psychological Bulletin, 130(3), 392–414.

    4. Mruk, C. (2006). Self-Esteem research, theory, and practice: Toward a positive psychology of self-esteem (3rd ed.). New York: Springer.

    This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Self-esteem", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.