188.8.131.52. Feelingsof Self-WorthLastly,the term self-esteem is used to refer to relatively transitory emotionalstatus, particularly those that are resulted from a positive or negativeoutcome. This is what people mean when they speak of experiences that reinforcetheir self-esteem or it is menaced.Following James(1890), these emotions will be referred to as self-feelings or as feelings ofself-worth. Feeling proud or pleased with ourselves (on the positive side), orembarrassed and ashamed of ourselves (on the negative side) are examples ofwhat we mean by feelings of self-worth.
Since the feelings of self worth involvefeelings toward oneself, some researchers (Butler, Hokanson, & Flynn, 1994;Leary, Tambor, Terdal, & Downs, 1995) use the term state self-esteem torefer to them. They also use trait self-esteem to refer to the way people commonly feelabout themselves. These terms are fairly equivalent phenomena, implying thatthe essential difference between them is that global self-esteem is constant,while feelings of self-worth are temporary. The trait-state assumption hasimportant consequences. First, it suggests that feeling proud of oneself issimilar to having high self-esteem; however, feeling ashamed of oneself is thesame as having low self-esteem. This, in turn, leads investigators to assumethat by temporarily leading people to feel good or bad about themselves ananalogue of high self-esteem or low self-esteem can be created (Greenberg etal., 1992; Heatherton & Polivy, 1991; Leary et al.
, 1995if first mentioning). Through giving people positive ornegative self-relevant feedback this is normally accomplished (e.g., tellingpeople they are high or low in some ability). Other researchers oppose this approach, arguingthat this way suitable analogue of high self-esteem or low self-esteem cannotbe provided (Brown & Dutton, 1995b; Wells & Marwell, 1976). Severaltimes, it has been argued that one of the basic human needs is to feel goodabout them.
This is called the self-enhancement motive within psychology, i.e., people are motivated tohave high feelings of self-worth.
People want to feel proud of themselvesrather than being ashamed of themselves. They attempt to enhance and keep theirfeelings 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 factthat at first seems banal, or irrelevant: it is the fact that—as far as we cantell—all organisms like to “feel good” about themselves.
… Thus in the mostbrief and direct manner, we have a law of human development…
. (Becker, 1968,p.328)