side) are examples of what we mean by         
of Self-Worth

the term self-esteem is used to refer to relatively transitory emotional
status, particularly those that are resulted from a positive or negative
outcome. This is what people mean when they speak of experiences that reinforce
their self-esteem or it is menaced.

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Following James
(1890), these emotions will be referred to as self-feelings or as feelings of
self-worth. Feeling proud or pleased with ourselves (on the positive side), or
embarrassed and ashamed of ourselves (on the negative side) are examples of
what we mean by feelings of self-worth.

Since the feelings of self worth involve
feelings toward oneself, some researchers (Butler, Hokanson, & Flynn, 1994;
Leary, Tambor, Terdal, & Downs, 1995) use the term state self-esteem to
refer to them. They also use trait self-esteem to refer to the way people commonly feel
about themselves. These terms are fairly equivalent phenomena, implying that
the essential difference between them is that global self-esteem is constant,
while feelings of self-worth are temporary.

The trait-state assumption has
important consequences. First, it suggests that feeling proud of oneself is
similar to having high self-esteem; however, feeling ashamed of oneself is the
same as having low self-esteem. This, in turn, leads investigators to assume
that by temporarily leading people to feel good or bad about themselves an
analogue of high self-esteem or low self-esteem can be created (Greenberg et
al., 1992; Heatherton & Polivy, 1991; Leary et al., 1995if first mentioning). Through giving people positive or
negative self-relevant feedback this is normally accomplished (e.g., telling
people they are high or low in some ability).

Other researchers oppose this approach, arguing
that this way suitable analogue of high self-esteem or low self-esteem cannot
be provided (Brown & Dutton, 1995b; Wells & Marwell, 1976). Several
times, it has been argued that one of the basic human needs is to feel good
about them. This is called the self-enhancement motive within psychology, i.e., people are motivated to
have high feelings of self-worth. People want to feel proud of themselves
rather than being ashamed of themselves. They attempt to enhance and keep their
feelings of self-worth. The way of meeting this need differs across time,
cultures, and subcultures; however, the need is universal (Brown & Dutton,
1995b). The conclusion was perhaps best stated by the of Pulitzer Prize-winner,
the anthropologist, Ernest Becker, who wrote:


The fundamental datum for our science is a fact
that at first seems banal, or irrelevant: it is the fact that—as far as we can
tell—all organisms like to “feel good” about themselves…. Thus in the most
brief and direct manner, we have a law of human development…. (Becker, 1968,



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