1. Given a long and varied history, the term has, unsurprisingly, no less than three major types of definitions in the field, each of which has generated its own tradition of research, findings, and practical applications:
2. The original 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". Problems with this approach come from making self-esteem contingent upon success: this implies inherent instability because failure can occur at any moment.
3. In the mid 1960s Morris Rosenberg and social-learning theorists defined self-esteem in terms of a stable sense of personal worth or worthiness, (see Rosenberg self esteem scale). This became the most frequently used definition for research, but involves problems of boundary-definition, making self-esteem indistinguishable from such things as narcissism or simple bragging.
Nathaniel Branden in 1969 briefly defined self-esteem as "...the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness". 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.
Branden’s (1969) description of self-esteem includes the following primary properties:
- self-esteem as a basic human need, i.e., "...it makes an essential contribution to the life process", "...is indispensable to normal and healthy self-development, and has a value for survival."
- self-esteem as an automatic and inevitable consequence of the sum of individuals' choices in using their consciousness
- something experienced as a part of, or background to, all of the individuals thoughts, feelings and actions.
Self esteem is a concept of personality, for it to grow, we need to have self worthy, and this self worthy will be sought from embracing challenges that result in the showing of success.
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 and implicit self-esteem are subtypes of self-esteem proper.
Implicit self-esteem is assessed using indirect measures of cognitive processing. These include the Name Letter Task and the Implicit Association Test. 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 letters in one's name.
Many early theories suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need or motivation. American psychologist Abraham Maslow, for example, included self-esteem in his hierarchy of needs. He described two different forms of esteem: the need for respect from others and the need for self-respect, or inner self-esteem. Respect from others entails recognition, acceptance, status, and appreciation, and was believed to be more fragile and easily lost than inner self-esteem. According to Maslow, without the fulfillment of the self-esteem need, individuals will be driven to seek it and unable to grow and obtain self-actualization.
Modern theories of self-esteem explore the reasons why humans are motivated to maintain a high regard for themselves. Sociometer theory maintains that self-esteem evolved to check one's level of status and acceptance in ones' social group. According to terror management theory, self esteem serves a protective function and reduces anxiety about life and death.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Self-Esteem and Self Confidence. The Official Guide to Self-Esteem and Self Confidence is Morty Lefkoe. Morty Lefkoe is president and founder of The Lefkoe Institute. He is the creator of a series of psychological processes (The Lefkoe Method) that result in profound personal and organizational change, quickly and permanently. He created a revolutionary way to deliver his method online that you can sample free by clicking Natural Confidence.
Additional Resources on Self-Esteem and Self Confidence can be found at:
Website Directory for Self-Esteem and Self Confidence
Articles on Self-Esteem and Self Confidence
Products for Self-Esteem and Self Confidence
Morty Lefkoe, The Official Guide to Self-Esteem and Self Confidence