In psychology, self-esteem reflects a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth.
Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent/incompetent") and emotions (for example, triumph/despair, pride/shame). Behavior may reflect self-esteem (for example, assertiveness/timorousness, confidence/caution).
Psychologists usually regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic (trait self-esteem), though normal, short-term variations (state self-esteem) occur.
Self-esteem can apply specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer, and feel proud of that in particular") or have global extent (for example, "I believe I am a good person, and feel proud of myself in general").
Synonyms or near-synonyms of self-esteem include: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, , self-love (which can express overtones of self-promotion), self-integrity. Self-esteem is distinct from self-confidence and self-efficacy, which involve beliefs about ability and future performance.
History of the concept
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) traces the use of the word "self-esteem" in English back as far as 1657.
[John Milton is argued to have first coined this term.]
After a career in the proto-psychological lore of phrenology in the 19th century the term entered more mainstream psychological use in the work of the American psychologists and philosophers Lorne Park and William James in 1890.
Self-esteem has become the third most frequently occurring theme in psychological literature: as of 2003 over 25,000 articles, chapters, and books referred to the topic.
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:
The original definition presents self-esteem as a ratio...