Two psychological terms that are very commonly used interchangeably are self-concept and self-esteem, but in fact, there is a difference between the meanings of the terms. A person’s self-concept is his knowledge about himself. Similar to how he can know other people, and known facts about how they tend to think, and what they enjoy doing, and what their temperament is like, he can also know these things about himself. Some people have much stronger self-concepts than others, probably because possessing a self-concept in much detail requires reflection on one’s own self and behavior. Self-esteem, rather than being something that you know about yourself, is your general attitude toward yourself.
It is mostly measured on a scale from positive to negative, and your self-esteem is typically based on whether you think you are successful, a good person, smart, and so on. It can vary depending on the situation and what has been going on lately, and any feedback you have gotten recently from your environment and people around you. The key difference between self-concept and self-esteem is that the addition of feelings. Self-concept is simply the informational side of things, where you know facts about what you are like. Self-esteem is how you feel about those things you know, like whether you enjoy the fact that you are talkative at parties (high self-esteem) or you think that you are annoying and need to learn to shut up sometimes (low self-esteem).
There are a variety of self-esteem effects that can come from the self-concept. Self-concept and self-esteem also have a lot in common though, mostly that they are reflective processes. They can be influenced not only by observing one’s own self and behavior objectively, but also by observing the reactions that other people have to you and your behavior, or imagining what other people might think of you, or what you would think of yourself if you saw yourself from outside. In addition, self-concept and self-esteem can be developed through comparing oneself to those around you, and that is a big reason that self-esteem is raised or lowered.
When you see that you are better at something than somebody else, then you will probably have higher self-esteem because you see and understand your own value. What Can Hurt Self-Concept and Self-Esteem? Of course, having people inaccurately say bad things about you and your character, or make comparisons between you and people who are better than you at objective measures can both hurt self-esteem. Perhaps more interestingly, receiving rewards for doing actions can actually change your self-concept. If there is something that you enjoy doing as a hobby, and then you get a full-time job doing that activity, you are likely to not enjoy it as a hobby as much or see it as an integral part of yourself, but rather you will view yourself as somebody who does that professionally, but not for fun.
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