Self-esteem is debatably one of the utmost imperative constructs in psychology. It has continued to be a topic of theoretical interest among psychologists since the late 19th century. In addition to being a central component of theories of personality, self-esteem has been incorporated also into a number of social psychological processes, including cognitive dissonance, social comparison and conformity.
Theories of personality:
Carl Rogers believed that people are fundamentally positive in nature. He believed that when we act irrationally or in a negative way people are not functioning properly. Rogers supported the phenomenological approach to personality. This approach stated that an “individual perceives the world in a unique way… these perceptions make up an individual’s phenomenal field” phenomenal field is a component in the phenomenological approach. It takes in all experiences both conscious and unconsciousness. As some experiences are not as important as others we are left with those that are important which becomes what is known as the self. This is a key concept in Rogers’ theory. The self, or self concept, is what people identify as “I” or “Me”. This awareness and identification of the self comes through the perceptions and experiences encountered by an individual throughout their lives.Probably the most important aspect of the theory is the actualizing tendency. This is a person's innate motivation towards developing to the fullest potential. Rogers believed that all organisms, not just people, have this tendency from the moment of birth. As people grow we need positive regard and positive self-regard to fulfill our potentials. Positive regard comes from the love and attention we get from our parents for example. Positive self-regard comes from the positive regard we are shown over the years which leads us with good self-esteem and a positive self-image. However, because we are often shown positive regard only when it is seen as worthy, not because it is needed, conditions of worth are created. Receiving positive regard in certain conditions is known as conditional positive regard. As with positive regard, over time we develop conditional positive self-regard as a result of conditions.
Rogers believed that through positive regard and positive self-regard a person could become their "real self", a person functioning at their true and full potential. However due to conditions of worth and the standards other people place on an individual, a person could instead become their "ideal self". This ideal self is a self that is at a standard an individual cannot meet: not really attainable. The space between the real and ideal self is known as incongruity. The bigger this space is, the less likely an individual will attain their potential. Due to this incongruity, people often feel anxious or are put into situations where they may feel uncomfortable. In these situations people uses defense mechanisms. As with Freud, Rogers also came up with the idea of defense mechanisms, though he only has two. Denial, when one denies the situation altogether and perceptual distortion, when one changes the meaning of the situation for themselves.
Human judgment is basically comparative, this also holds for self-judgments. Self-perception and self-evaluation come about through social comparison, temporal comparison, and comparison with a desired or feared self-image. Inspired by Leon Festinger’s (1954) theory of social comparison, researchers have examined when people engage in social comparison, with whom, how their desire for social comparison affects affiliation, how comparisons takes place, which inferences comparers make about their standing on the comparison dimension, and how these affect their well-being.
One important finding that emerges from these studies is that social comparison is even more ubiquitous than