In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person's overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself, (for example, "I am competent", "I am worthy"), as well as emotional states states, such as triumph, despair pride, and shame. Smith and Mackie (2007) defined it by saying "The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it. Self-esteem is attractive as a social psychological construct because researchers have conceptualized it as an influential predictor of certain outcomes, such as academic achievement,happiness, satisfaction in marriage and relationships, and criminal behaviour. Self-esteem can apply specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer and feel happy about that") or a global extent (for example, "I believe I am a bad person, and feel bad about myself in general"). Psychologists 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, self-regard, self-respect, and self-integrity.
philosopher and psychologist, William James (1892). James identified multiple dimensions of the self, with two levels of hierarchy: processes of knowing (called the 'I-self') and the resulting knowledge about the self (the `Me-self'). Observation about the self and storage of those observations by the I-self create three types of knowledge, which collectively account for the Me-self, according to James. These are the material self, social self, and spiritual self. The social self comes closest to self-esteem, comprising all characteristics recognized by others. The material self consists of representations of the body and possessions, and the spiritual self of descriptive representations and evaluative dispositions regarding the self. This view of self-esteem as the collection of an individual's attitudes toward oneself remains today.
Development across lifespan
- Moral Judgment Stages: Individuals describe their Real, Ideal, and Dreaded Selves with stereotypical labels, such as "nice" or "bad". Individuals describe their Ideal and Real Selves in terms of disposition for action or as behavioral habits. The Dreaded Self is often described as being unsuccessful or as having bad habits.
- Ego Development Stages: Individuals describe their Ideal and Real Selves in terms of traits that are based in attitudes as well as actions. The Dreaded Self is often described as having failed to meet social expectations or as self-centered.
- Self-Understanding Stages: Individuals describe their Ideal and Real Selves as having a unified identity or character. Descriptions of the Dreaded Self focus on a failure to live up to one's ideals or role expectations often because of real world problems.