The 4 Types Of Self-esteem: Do You Value Yourself?

Basic characteristics of the different forms of self-esteem.

There are different types of self-esteem depending on whether it is high or low and stable or unstable. Self-esteem is one of the most relevant factors for personal well-being and a key to relating to the environment around us in a positive way.

Since the different types of self-esteem have their peculiarities, in today’s article we are going to review their characteristics.

Self-esteem and its relation to well-being

Despite the fact that the concept of self-esteem has been one of the most confusing, questioned and analyzed throughout the history of psychology, most experts indicate that it is an element that is found innately in each individual and that it is exposed to multiple modifications throughout our lives.

Self-esteem evolves and develops due to the relationship with the world, and constantly changes as it is linked to the change in society. Different social and cultural contexts will correspond to different perceptions of what we consider to be healthy self-esteem.

The 4 types of self-esteem

As we have discussed, self-esteem needs to be nurtured, to varying degrees, from the outside. Although the foundations are built during childhood, self-esteem is not unalterable in other stages of life.

It is important to note that self-esteem is not the same as self- confidence. Self-confidence (also called self-efficacy ) is related to the specific objectives and goals that we set ourselves, while self-esteem refers to the global assessment we make of ourselves.

Since self-efficacy refers to the confidence in oneself for a specific goal task, someone may think that they are very good at playing tennis, however they may have low self-esteem: they would still like to be taller or have a better physique On the contrary, he is confident in his ability to beat his rivals on a tennis court. Self-efficacy could positively affect an individual’s self-esteem if they consider it a priority in their life.

  • To learn more about self-confidence, you can visit our article “ Albert Bandura’s Self-efficacy: Do you believe in yourself? ”.

Factors that explain good (or bad) self-esteem

It seems that there are 4 relevant factors that affect self-esteem, they are the following:

  • The history of triumphs and the position achieved through the recognition that triumphs bring.

  • The areas associated with the different triumphs, as long as they are meaningful to the person.

  • The respect, acceptance and interest that the individual receives from the people they consider important in their life.

  • The control and defense against negative consequences and implications. That is, the internal or external attribution that the person makes of negative events.

In his book Self-esteem and identity. Narcissism and social values , Luis Hornstein proposes 4 types of self-esteem. According to the author, the types of self-esteem vary because the value of oneself can be more or less high and more or less stable.

Here are the four types of self-esteem that exist, and their characteristics.

1. High and stable self-esteem

External circumstances and life events have little influence on self-esteem. People with this type of self-esteem develop openly since they do not need to defend their image, they defend themselves. In addition, the person is able to defend her point of view without destabilizing.

2. High and unstable self-esteem

People with this type of self-esteem have high self-esteem but are unable to maintain it constant. Competitive contexts can have a destabilizing effect. They respond with a critical attitude to failure, since these are perceived as threats. The individual will show conviction when defending her point of view, but will not accept other points of view and will tend to monopolize the floor in an argument.

The instability of self-esteem leads to placing self-esteem as a central concern and requires preserving it at any cost and appealing to an aggressive attitude (to promote it) or passive (to protect it).

3. Low and stable self-esteem

In cases where there is a low and stable self-esteem, external events (whether favorable or not) do not alter the self-esteem of the subject, who does not make an effort to promote his personal image and is undervalued.

Individuals with this type of self-esteem are indecisive and have a great fear of being wrong. These people do not defend their points of view since their assessment of themselves is always negative, they believe that they are not up to par.

This type of self-esteem is very common in people with depressive tendencies, who because of their pessimistic mentality do not usually perceive their personal achievements as such, assuming that they are the result of luck or chance.

4. Low and unstable self-esteem

People with this type of self-esteem are usually sensitive and influenced by external events. As soon as they face a successful event, their self-esteem rises, but as the euphoria of the moment ends, their self-esteem level drops again.

In other words, this type of self-esteem is defined by its lack of solidity and the instability it presents, which makes it highly sensitive to all kinds of events, no matter how irrelevant they may seem from a rational point of view.

Certain classes of narcissistic people, for example, are characterized among other things by having low self-esteem and highly dependent on the opinion they perceive of others.

  • To learn more about this kind of self-esteem, I recommend that you read this article: “Low self-esteem? When you become your worst enemy”

Bonus: Inflated Self-Esteem

Other authors also speak of a type of self-esteem detrimental to well-being, inflated self-esteem. But what is inflated self-esteem?

The person with inflated self-esteem is unable to listen to others, much less accept or acknowledge a mistake. Their perception of themselves is so inflated that they think they are better than the rest. When things get complicated, they don’t acknowledge mistakes and immediately blame others. This type of attitude generates negative behaviors since they are not capable of self-criticism and correcting mistakes. In general, these individuals look down on others and adopt hostile behavior towards them.

Bibliographic references:

  • Branden, N. (2001). The psychology of self-esteem: a revolutionary approach to self-understanding that launched a new era in modern psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Coopersmith, S. (1967). The Antecedents of Self-Esteem, New York, WH Freeman.

  • Hill, SE & Buss, DM (2006). “The Evolution of Self-Esteem.” In Michael Kernis, (Ed.), Self Esteem: Issues and Answers: A Sourcebook of Current Perspectives ..

  • Mruk, C. (2006). Self-Esteem research, theory, and practice: Toward a positive psychology of self-esteem (3rd ed.). New York: Springer.

  • Twenge, Jean M. (2007). Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Free Press.

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