In psychology, self-esteem refers to the overall evaluation of an individuals attitude toward his or her own worth. In other words, it encompasses beliefs about oneself including emotional states such as pride, despair, and triumph. Smith and Mackie (2007) argued that The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it," (p 107). In the recent past, many psychologists and sociologists have developed an interest in this concept and expanded their research to explore the relationship between self-esteem and academic excellence, happiness, criminal behavior, and marriage relationships. In the 20th and 21st centuries, self-perception has become significant that it has received an endorsement from both governmental and non-governmental organizations to form what could be described as a self-esteem movement. The new campaign underscores the proposition that psychological studies can have a positive effect on the development of public policies. The fundamental argument of the movement is that low level of self-regard is the root problem for many people hence the primary cause of societal challenges and dysfunctions. In fact, psychologists have likened increasing levels of self-esteem to administering a vaccine for a disease, which helps protect individuals from being overridden by life challenges.
The importance of the concept of self-esteem in psychology is exemplified by Booth and Gerard (2011), who conducted a study among students of British and American origin to investigate this relationship. From the study, the scholars noted that there exists a positive correlation between high self-esteem and academic performance. The article Self-esteem and academic achievement: a comparative study of adolescent students in England and the United States by Booth and Gerard published in 2011 consists of results of an investigation on the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance for students aged between 11 and 12 years from the United States and Britain. The research comprised of 172 participants (86 respondents from each country) who were observed and examined during their 11-12th year. From the study, the scholars found that quantitative results suggested that decline in self-esteem was attributed to several indicators of academic achievement later in the year. Although country differences were noted, mathematics subject was seen to register consistent results in relation to self-esteem for both nations. Importantly, findings from qualitative analyses showed that British students registered stronger relationship between self-perception and academic performance than those from the United States.
The findings of Booth and Gerard (2011) are very true in my life; self-perception affects the academic performance. Since I was a child up to 15 years, I experienced difficulties in socializing and creating new friends in school. When not in school, I spent all the time locked in my room playing video games and watching cartoons. Even when we had visitors at home, I rarely came out of my room, and when I did, I was forced by my mother. At the age of nine years, my parents realized that I had developed an anxiety problem. I was afraid to go to school, meet new people, and even sit for my exams. I was taken to a psychotherapist who diagnosed me with low-self-esteem as the root of my problems. Within three months only, he had helped me overcome my fears, and I could comfortably meet new people and create friends. After seven months, I was completely transformed. My self-esteem had drastically increased which helped me to vie for a student leader position which I won overwhelmingly. Overall, self-esteem is not only the cause of many societal problems but also a determinant of success in many fields.
Smith, E. R., & Mackie, D. M. (2006). Social psychology. New York: Psychology Press.
Booth, M. Z., & Gerard, J. M. (2011). Self-esteem and academic achievement: a comparative study of adolescent students in England and the United States. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 41(5), 629-648. doi:10.1080/03057925.2011.566688
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