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Self-esteem is the person’s overall which reflects a subjective emotional evaluation of his or her worth. Also, it is a judgement of oneself as well as his or her attitude towards himself or herself. Self-esteem is composed of what one believes such as a feeling of worth and one’s emotional state such as pride. In 2007, Smith and Mackie defined self-worth as what we think about oneself in the negative or positive evaluations of the self as well as how we feel about it. Self-esteem is viewed as a social psychological construct as researchers have conceptualized it as an influential predictor of specific outcomes which may include happiness, satisfaction, relationships, academic achievements as well as criminal behaviour. It can apply individually to a particular dimension such as feeling one as a good writer hence feel happy about that or in a global perspective such as someone feeling that he or she is a wrong person and he or she feels bad about himself or herself in general. Psychologists most of the time regard self-esteem as a persevering personality characteristic which can be a trait though normal, short-term variations which means one’s state also exist.

History of self-esteem.

William James who is a philosopher identified self-esteem as a distinct psychological construct which is thought to have origins in the work of philosophy. William identified double dimensions of the self which contains two levels of hierarchy. The two authorities include the process of knowing called the I – self and the resulting knowledge about the person which is my self. Three types knowledge of I self-care observed, and those observations are kept which collectively account for my self which is according to William. The three considerations are real self, social self and spiritual self. Social self-comes nearness to self-esteem as it comprises of all characteristics recognised by others about oneself. Material self-consists what the body and possessions represent. The spiritual self is the graphic representations as well as evaluative dispositions which regards oneself. The manner in which self-esteem is argued as the collection of the person’s attitudes towards oneself which remains today. Morris Rosenberg who is a sociologist in the early 1960s defined self-esteem as a feeling of self-worth after which he developed the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSES) which later became the most used scale in the measurement of self-confidence in the social sciences.

The behaviourist movement in the early 20th century minimised introspective study of mental processes, emotions, and feelings which in turn are replaced by scientific survey through experiments on behaviours observed about the environment. Behaviorism placed human beings as an animal subject to reinforcements as well as suggested of putting psychology as an experimental science which is similar to chemistry and biology or any other science. Clinical trials on self-esteem are overlooked to in a process since behaviourists had considered the idea less liable to rigorous measurement. The rise of phenomenology and humanistic in the mid-20th century led to the renewed interest in self-esteem. Self-esteem later took a central role in personal self-actualisation as well as in the treatment of psychic disorders. Psychologists then considered the relationship between psychotherapy and own satisfaction of a persona with high self-esteem which is useful to the field. New elements were involved in the concept of self-esteem which includes the reasons why people tend to feel less worthy as well as why people became discouraged or unable to meet challenges by themselves.

In recent, the core self-evaluations approach which includes self-esteem aa the key the four dimensions that comprise one’s fundamental appraisal of oneself, the locus of control, neuroticism as well as self-efficacy. Judge, Locke and Durham in 1997, first examined the concept of core self-evaluations which have then proven the ability to predict several work outcomes with particular concern to job satisfaction as well as job performance. Self-esteem might be an essential core self-evaluation dimension as it is the overall value one feels about oneself as a person.

Effect of self-esteem on public policy.

Self-esteem has gained significant endorsement for some government as well as non-government groups as from 1970s such as a person can speak of self-worth as a movement. The movement can be utilized as an example of promising evidence that psychological research can affect forming public policy. The idea of the action behind it was that self-esteem was the cause of the problems of individuals, hence making it root of societal problems and dysfunctions. Nathaniel Branden who was a psychologist; was the leading figure in the movement who quoted and said that one could not think of a single psychological problem which is from anxiety and depression. Also, to fear the intimacy or success, to spouse battery or child molestation which is not tracked back to the problem of low self-esteem. Furthermore, self-esteem was believed to be a cultural phenomenon of the western individualistic societies as self-esteem had not occurred in collectivist countries such as Japan. Due to the idea of low self-esteem as well as its many negative consequences led to John Vasconcellos who was from California and worked to create and fund the task force that dealt with self-esteem, personal and social responsibility in California in 1986. John argued that the task force could combat many of the nation’s problems more so from as well as teen pregnancy to school underachievement and pollution. John compared the increasing rate of self-esteem to giving out a vaccine for a disease which could protect people from being overwhelmed by challenges of life.

Committees were created by the task force in many counties of California which compiled a panel of scholars to review the availability of literature on self-esteem. The jury that was formed found very small associations amongst the low self-esteem, and it’s assumed consequences which ultimately showed that low self-esteem is not the root of all societal problems and not as essential as the committee had thought. Despite this conclusion, the authors of the paper which summarised the review of the literature still had a belief that self-esteem is an independent variable that affects major social problems. In 1995, the task force was disbanded, and the National Association for Self-Esteem (NASE) was later formed taking over the mission of the task force. In 2003, Jack Canfield, as well as Vasconcellos, were a part of its advisory board, and Anthony Robbins, Bernie Siegel and Gloria Steinem were members of its master coalition.

Theories of self-esteem.

A lot of theories suggested that self-esteem is a human need or motivation. Abraham Maslow who is an American psychologist included self-esteem in his hierarchy of human needs. Abraham described the two forms of esteem which are the need for respect from others in the way of recognition, success and admiration as well as the need for self-respect in the kind of self-love, self-confidence, skill or aptitude. The respect which comes from the others was believed to be more fragile and easily lost as compared to inner self-esteem. According to Abraham, without the fulfilment of the need of self-esteem, persons would be driven to seek it as well as unable to grow and obtain self-actualisation. He states that the most healthy expression of self-confidence is the one which manifests in respect to deserving for others, more than renown, fame as well as flattery. Self-esteem theories which are modern theories explore the reasons why human beings are motivated to maintain a high regard for themselves. Sociometer theory tries to keep that self-esteem evolved to check the level of status of oneself as well as the acceptance in one’s group. As per the Terror Management Theory, self-esteem is argued to serve a protective function as well as reducing anxiety about life and death.

The importance of self-esteem is that it shows us how we can view the way in which we are as the sense of our value. Hence it affects the manner in which we are as well as how we act in the world. Also, it changes the way in which we relate to everybody else.

In 1902-1987, Carl Rogers who is an advocate; theorised the origin of many problems of the people to be that they despise themselves as well as consider themselves as worthless and unable of being loved. This is the reason why Rogers believed in the importance of giving unconditional acceptance to a client, and when this done, it could improve the self-esteem of the client. In Roger’s therapy sessions with the clients, he offered positive regard no matter what the situation. In fact, since then, the concept of self-esteem is approached in humanistic psychology as an inalienable right for every person.

Measurement of self-esteem.

It is typically assessed using self-report inventories. The most widely used instruments are Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSES) in a 10-item self-esteem scale scores which require participants to indicate their level of agreement with a series of statements about themselves. The Coopersmith Inventory is an alternative measure which uses a 50-question battery over a variety of topics as well asks subjects as to whether they rate someone as similar or dissimilar to themselves. The RSES scale regards them as well adjusted if a subject’s answers demonstrate solid self-regard. Just in case they reveal some inner shame, it considers them to be prone to social deviance. An implicit measure of self-esteem begun to be used in the 1980s which relies on an indirect action of cognitive processing which was thought to be linked with implicit self-esteem which includes the Name Letter Task. Such indirect measure design reduces the process of awareness and its assessment. Psychologists feature self-relevant stimuli to the participation on when used to assess implicit self-esteem design and then measure the rate at which a person identifies positive and negative incentives.

Development of self-esteem across the lifespan.

Development of self-esteem in the life of a person depends on person’s experience. In the early life of a child, one’s parents influence self-esteem and can be considered as the primary source of positive and negative experiences a child will have. If the parents of the child show unconditional love, the child develops a stable sense of being cared for as well as respected. That kind of feelings in a child translates to what follows himself or herself as they grow.

High esteem among people increases self-actualisation, respect, love and feeling belonging, safety as well as psychological. Such people are ready to defend his or her principles even in situations he or she is finding opposition. On the other hand, low self-esteem leads to a feeling of same and unable to defend themselves in cases of resistance.

People who possess little self-regard can lead to people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential as well tolerate abusive situations and relationships. On the other hand, too much self-love results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and ability to learn from failures.


Baumeister, R. F. (Ed.). (2013). Self-esteem: The puzzle of low self-regard. Springer Science & Business Media.

Brown, J. D. (2014). Self-esteem and self-evaluation: Feeling is believing. Psychological perspectives on the self, 4, 27-58.

Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2014). The development of self-esteem. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 381-387.

Steiger, A. E., Allemand, M., Robins, R. W., & Fend, H. A. (2014). Low and decreasing self-esteem during adolescence predict adult depression two decades later. Journal of personality and social psychology, 106(2), 325.