- Define self-esteem and explain how it is measured by social psychologists.
- Explore findings indicating diversity in self-esteem in relation to culture, gender, and age.
- Provide examples of ways that people attempt to increase and maintain their self-esteem.
- Outline the benefits of having high self-esteem.
- Review the limits of self-esteem, with a focus on the negative aspects of narcissism.
As we have noted in our discussions of the self-concept, our sense of self is partly determined by our cognition. However, our view of ourselves is also the product of our affect, in other words how we feel about ourselves. Just as we explored in Social Cognition, cognition and affect are inextricably linked. For example, self-discrepancy theory highlights how we feel distress when we perceive a gap between our actual and ideal selves. We will now examine this feeling self, starting with perhaps its most heavily researched aspect, self-esteem.