Deutsch: Selbstwertgefühl / Español: Autoestima / Português: Autoestima / Français: Estime de soi / Italiano: Autostima

Self-esteem in psychology refers to an individual's overall subjective emotional evaluation of their own worth. It is the 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 such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Psychologists often regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic, though it can also fluctuate depending on various circumstances. It is a crucial element in motivation, psychological health, and overall quality of life.

Self-esteem is fundamentally linked to virtually every element of individual psychology, affecting how people think, act, and relate to others. It also influences how they cope with challenges and setbacks. High self-esteem is associated with better health, better social interactions, and a greater capacity to deal with adversity, whereas low self-esteem is linked to a vulnerability to psychological issues such as depression and anxiety.

Application Areas

In psychology, self-esteem is relevant in numerous fields, including:

  • Clinical psychology: Treatment often aims to boost self-esteem in patients suffering from various psychological disorders.
  • Educational psychology: Educators work to enhance students' self-esteem to improve their academic performance and interpersonal skills.
  • Social psychology: Studies how self-esteem affects group dynamics and individual relationships.

Well-Known Examples

Notable psychological theories and research on self-esteem include:

  • Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale: Developed by sociologist Morris Rosenberg, this scale is a widely used self-report instrument for evaluating individual self-esteem.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow included self-esteem as one of the essential developmental stages in his theory, considering it critical for achieving one’s potential and self-actualization.

Treatment and Risks

Having either excessively high or low self-esteem can pose various risks. Low self-esteem is often associated with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, while unrealistically high self-esteem can lead to problematic behaviors, including a sense of entitlement or a lack of empathy. Psychological interventions often aim to foster a balanced, resilient sense of self-worth, helping individuals to value themselves appropriately.

Similar Terms

Related psychological terms include:

  • Self-concept: An individual's perception of self, which includes self-esteem as well as other dimensions like self-knowledge and social identity.
  • Self-efficacy: Refers specifically to one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task, which can influence self-esteem but is conceptually distinct.


Self-esteem is a central concept in psychology, vital for an individual's mental health and well-being. It shapes how people view themselves and their place in the world, influencing their behavior, their interactions, and their potential to face life's challenges.

One's overall assessment of one's worth as a person; the evaluative component of the self-concept.


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