Self-Esteem: A Quick Guide

We all know what it feels like to have high self-esteem and low self-esteem. But do you know what psychological factors contribute to these feelings? In this quick guide, we’ll explore the psychology of it and discuss some ways to build a healthy sense of self-worth. So whether you’re seeking to improve your own self-respect or help someone else, read on!

Is self-esteem and self-confidence the same?

No, self-esteem and self-confidence are not the same. The former is a measure of how much you like or respect yourself, while self-confidence is a measure of your belief in your ability to achieve something. Someone with high self-esteem may have low self-confidence, and someone with low self-esteem may have high self-confidence.

What Is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is a feeling of self-worth that is based on our own opinions of ourselves, rather than on the opinions of others. It is an important part of our psychological health, and it helps us to feel good about ourselves and to thrive in our lives.

People with high self-respect generally feel good about themselves, are confident in their abilities, and feel capable of reaching their goals. They also tend to be more resilient in the face of setbacks and more likely to take risks. People with low self-respect, on the other hand, often doubt their abilities and feel unworthy of happiness or success. They may also be more likely to experience anxiety or depression.


The idea of self-esteem arose in the 18th century, and it was first described by Scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume. Self-esteem, according to Hume, is necessary in order for human beings to reach their full potential.

The notion of self-esteem as a distinct psychological concept began with philosopher, psychologist, geologist, and anthropologist William James (1892). James regarded many aspects of the self, with two levels of hierarchy: knowledge about oneself (the “I-self”) and processes for knowing oneself (the “Me-self”). According to James, the I-self’s observation of itself and its storage of those observations creates three types of knowledge, which together describe the Me-self.

These are the material self, social self, and spiritual self. The social self is closest to self-respect, including all characteristics that others acknowledge. The material self is made up of representations of the body and possessions, whereas the spiritual self consists of descriptive representations and evaluative dispositions about oneself. This sense of self-respect as a person’s beliefs about himself or herself is still prevalent today.

In the mid-1960s, social psychologist Morris Rosenberg formalized it as a sense of self-worth and created the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), which has been used by researchers in many disciplines.

The behaviorist movement, which began in the early 20th century and sought to limit introspective study of mental processes, emotions, and feelings in favor of objective research via observations on behaviors linked to the environment, has continued into current times. Behaviorism viewed the human being as an animal that can be conditioned, and it proposed putting psychology in the experimental realm, like chemistry or biology. Clinical studies on this concept were neglected because behaviorists regarded the hypothesis to be less suitable for rigorous measurement. The rise of phenomenology and humanistic psychology in the mid-20th century sparked renewed interest in the concept.

It was also a key component in personal self-actualization and the treatment of mental disorders. Psychologists began to investigate the link between psychotherapy and high self-esteem individuals’ personal gratification as beneficial to the discipline. This led to new aspects being added to the notion of self-esteem, including the reasons why people feel less worthy and why they become disheartened or unable to overcome difficulties on their own.

Theories of Self-Esteem:

It was long considered to be a necessary feature of human nature. Abraham Maslow included the concept in his hierarchy of needs, which is a list of the priority levels that humanity must fulfill in order to survive and thrive. He noted two distinct types of “esteem” in his essay: respect from others, such as recognition, success, and adulation, and self-respect based on self-love, self-confidence, skill, or talent. According to Maslow, the need for respect was thought to be more fragile and easily lost than self-esteem. Individuals will be driven to look for it and unable to mature and achieve self-actualization if they do not attain the fulfillment of the self-esteem need.

Abraham Maslow says that the most healthy form of it is the one that shows through our respect for others rather than fame and flattery. Theories on this concept in today’s society look at why people want to maintain a strong sense of self-worth. According to the sociometer theory, it was designed to check one’s social standing and acceptance in one’s group. According to Terror Management Theory, it serves a defensive purpose by decreasing anxiety about life and death.

Many people’s problems, according to advocate of humanistic psychology Dr. Carl Rogers, are caused by self-hatred and a belief that they are worthless and unlovable. This is why Rogers felt that providing unconditional acceptance to a customer was critical, and by doing so, it might help the client’s self-esteem. He provided positive regard to his patients, regardless of what was going on in their lives.

How Is It Measured?

Self-esteem is often measured via self-report questionnaires.

The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSES) is a 10-item scale score that asks respondents to agree or disagree with various statements about themselves. The Coopersmith Inventory, for example, is an alternative technique that includes a 50-question quiz on a selection of issues and asks people to rate someone as similar or dissimilar to themselves. The scale regards a subject who displays genuine self-regard as well adjusted. If those answers suggest some inner guilt, they are considered prone to social deviance.

In the 1980s, researchers began to employ implicit self-respectmeasurements. These are based on indirect methods of cognitive processing thought to be linked with implicit self-respect, including the name letter task (or initial preference task) and the Implicit Association Task.

Researchers have used indirect strategies to reduce awareness of the assessment procedure. When assessing implicit self-esteem, psychologists use self-relevant stimuli to the participant and then assess how quickly they respond to positive or negative stimuli. For example, if a woman is exposed to words that are relevant to her self-concept, such as female and mother, psychologists would assess how quickly she identifies the negative word evil or the positive term kind.

Development of Self-Esteem in Humans:

It is developed in humans through a combination of genetic disposition, environmental influences, and personal experiences. The most important factor in self-respect development is the positive feedback children receive from their parents and caregivers. If children are praised for their accomplishments and told that they are loved unconditionally, they will be more likely to develop a healthy sense of self-worth. On the other hand, if children are regularly criticized or made to feel inferior, they will struggle with low self-esteem throughout their lives.

During the academic years, academic achievement is a key influence on self-esteem growth. Students’ individual self-respect will be strongly affected by achieving success or failing repeatedly. Another significant source of it is social interactions. Children begin to comprehend and recognize the differences between themselves and their classmates as they progress through school.

Children use social comparisons to compare their performance in activities with that of their classmates. These comparisons have a big impact on kids’ self-respect and influence how positively or negatively they view themselves. High self-esteem is developed through successful relationships among classmates. Social acceptance fosters confidence and produces high self-esteem, whereas peer rejection and isolation generate self-doubts and low self-esteem.

It grows throughout adolescence, peaks in young adulthood and middle age, then declines through old age. The increase is found to be minor in middle age and substantial in old age, based on various studies. Age is one of the most significant predictors of life satisfaction, and the findings might be due to age-related health, cognitive ability, or socioeconomic status. In old age, no gender differences have been reported in self-respect development. There is no difference in the life-span trajectory of self-respect among generations as a result of societal adjustments such as grade inflation in education or the presence of social media, according to several cohort studies.

High Self-Esteem v. Low Self-Esteem:

High self-esteem is a psychological term that refers to a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. People with high self-esteem generally have a positive outlook on themselves and feel good about who they are. They believe in their abilities and feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals.

People with high self-esteem often enjoy healthy relationships and have good social support networks. They are also more likely to take risks and be successful in achieving their goals. Overall, people with high self-esteem tend to be happier and more resilient in the face of setbacks.

Low self-esteem can be defined as a negative evaluation of oneself, or a lack of confidence in one’s abilities and qualities. People with low self-esteem often view themselves in a negative light, and may feel unworthy, incompetent, and unattractive.

People with low self-esteem may have difficulty asserting themselves and may be more likely to put the needs of others before their own. They may also find it difficult to accept compliments or positive feedback.

Low self-esteem can be harmful, as it can lead to social isolation, depression, and anxiety. It is important to seek help if you feel like you have low self-esteem, as there are many treatments available that can help you build up your confidence.

Treatment of Low Self-Esteem:

There are many ways to treat low self-esteem. Some people may benefit from therapy, while others may find self-help books or online programs more helpful. It is important to find a treatment that works for you and that you are able to stick with.

Some things that may help improve your self-esteem include:

  • Recognizing your strengths and accomplishments
  • Spending time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself
  • Setting realistic goals and taking steps to achieve them
  • Accepting yourself for who you are
  • Focusing on the positive aspects of your life

There are a number of therapies that can be used to treat low self-esteem. Some of the most common therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and psychodynamic therapy.

Each of these therapies focuses on different aspects of the individual’s personality and behaviour in order to help them improve their self-esteem. CBT, for example, helps individuals learn how to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves, while IPT helps individuals develop better relationships with others. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on exploring the individual’s past experiences and unresolved conflicts in order to understand how they may be affecting their current behaviour and self-esteem.

Last Updated on December 9, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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