What is Self-Esteem?

There are a host of people who go through self-esteem issues. They wonder what characterizes an individual a high self-esteem individual. They often confuse arrogance with having high self-esteem.

Well, if you are one of those, then you need to understand that there are certain experiences that give rise to high self-esteem and to low self-esteem. Further, such people fail to understand the importance of having high self-esteem.

In this article, we will clarify in detail what is self-esteem, what is high self-esteem and low self-esteem, and what causes low self-esteem? We will also discuss some of the ways in which individuals facing low self-esteem issues can get rid of it.

Define What is Self-Esteem?

There are three ways in which one can define the term self-esteem. These include global self-esteem, self-evaluations, and feelings of self-worth.

I. Global Self-Esteem

In generic terms, the term self-esteem refers to an individual’s personality attribute that represents the manner in which an individual generally feels about himself or herself. This form of self-esteem is called global self-esteem or trait self-esteem. Note that this type of self-esteem is endured in an individual across time as well as situations.

Thus, in simple words, self-esteem refers to the feelings of affection for oneself. Accordingly, an individual with high self-esteem has a general fondness or love for oneself. Whereas, an individual with low self-esteem is mildly positive or has confused feelings toward oneself. In extreme cases, low self-esteem people hate themselves. However, this kind of self-loathing occurs in people with clinical mental issues and not in normal people.

II. Self-Evaluations and Self-Esteem

Another way in which the term self-esteem is defined is the manner in which an individual evaluates his or her set of abilities. At times, the words self-confidence and self-efficacy are also used to refer to this type of self-esteem. This means in this case many people consider their level of confidence to be equivalent to self-esteem.

Thus, these beliefs are often referred to as self-evaluations or self-appraisals. This is because such beliefs refer to the manner in which people evaluate or appraise their abilities and personality characteristics. 

For instance, certain school students are often found doubting their learning abilities. This is sometimes referred to as low academic self-esteem. Likewise, many students consider themselves to be out of the famous lot and hence consider themselves to have high social self-esteem.

It might seem that self-evaluations and self-esteem are related. That’s why many people having high self-esteem consider that they have much more positive qualities as compared to people with low self-esteem. However, these are two separate beliefs.

For instance, a person who lacks confidence in school may like himself or herself on the whole. Likewise, a person who is beautiful or handsome may hate herself or himself respectively on the whole. 

But, you will find psychologists using the terms self-esteem and self-evaluation interchangeably. Note that such a causal relationship between self-esteem and self-evaluation is not clear.

Though, there are certain cognitive models in psychology that adopt a bottoms-up approach in defining the relationship between the two beliefs. As per this approach, positive self-evaluations in certain domains can give rise to high self-esteem. Such an approach demonstrates that global self-esteem is dependent on the kind of self-evaluations a person undertakes of oneself.

In addition to the cognitive models, there are effective models of self-esteem in psychology. These models adopt a top-down approach in defining the relationship between self-evaluation and self-esteem. Accordingly, high global self-esteem can give rise to positive self-evaluations in individuals.

III. Feelings of Self-Worth and Self-Esteem

Finally, the term self-esteem is also defined in terms of the feelings of self-worth that an individual has of oneself. Accordingly, the term self-esteem refers to the temporary emotional states, specifically the ones that occur due to either positive or negative outcomes.

Thus, when people say that their self-esteem is bolstered or threatened by the kind of experiences they have in life, this is what they refer to. For instance, an individual after losing his job may say that he is experiencing low self-esteem post losing the job. Or, an individual may say that he is experiencing high self-esteem after receiving a good project.

According to William James, these emotions are referred to as self-feelings or as feelings of self-worth. Thus, the feelings of self-worth refer to feeling proud on the positive end and feeling humiliated on the negative end.

Another characteristic of feelings of self-worth that you must make a note of this that humans have a basic need to feel good about themselves. This is referred to as a self-enhancement motive in psychology.

Self-enhancement motive refers to the fact that we humans are motivated to have high feelings of self-worth. What this means is that people always want to feel proud of themselves instead of being ashamed of themselves. 

As a result, they always make an effort to maximize and protect their feelings of self-worth. However, the manner in which individuals fulfill this need is different across times and cultures. The fact of the matter is that humans have a universal need of having high self-worth.

The anthropologist Ernest Becker demonstrated that “all organisms like to “feel good” about themselves. Thus in the briefest and direct manner, we have a law of human development.”

Why Are People Always Motivated To Have High Self-Worth?

Well, as per research, there is no one answer to this question. Some researchers believe that high self-worth feelings satisfy humans intrinsically. 

Others believe that positive feelings of self-worth are related to positive outcomes for humans. For instance, an individual achieving success in his or her job is a positive outcome and hence is responsible for feelings of high self-worth in an individual. 

In addition to this, there is another category of psychologists who believe that humans crave feelings of self-worth as these give meaning to their life. Perhaps, such feelings help them deal with the reality of death more comfortably. 

So the above connotations make one thing clear. And that we humans are motivated to promote, maintain, and protect positive feelings of self-worth, irrespective of the source of this need. 

How To Measure Self-Esteem?

People with low self-esteem say or do certain things that make you believe that such person has a low self-esteem. What this means is that the words and actions of an individual give a strong signal to your intuition that a person is low on self-esteem. 

But if you want a measure or a scale that gives you a reasonable approach to determining self-esteem, you can use Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. 

Methods of Measuring Self-Esteem

I. Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

One of the most widely used instruments for measuring self-esteem in the area of research is the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. This scale measures the global self-esteem of an individual. That is, it focuses on an individual’s general feelings toward themselves and does not consider any specific quality or attribute. 

Note that the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale is in the form of positive and negative statements. Each of these statements has four options against them accompanied by a number that ranges from 0 to 3. 

These options include Strongly Disagree (0), Disagree (1), Agree (2),  and Strongly Agree (3). Also, fifty percent of the statements are worded in a positive direction and the other fifty percent are worded in a negative direction.

The following table showcases the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

S.No.StatementsStrongly DisagreeDisagreeAgreeStrongly Agree
1.At times I think I am no good at all.0123
2.I take a positive view of myself.0123
3.All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.0123
4.I wish I could have more respect for myself.0123
5.I certainly feel useless at times.0123
6.I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.0123
7.On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.0123
8.I feel I do not have much to be proud of.0123
9.I feel that I have a number of good qualities.0123
10.I am able to do things as well as most other people.0123

To calculate the score, you first have to reverse the score of the five negatively worded statements. For instance, the negatively worded statements in the scale above include statements 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8. Reverse the score for each of these statements as below:

  • Make 0 as 3
  • Then, 1 as 2
  • Make 2 as 1
  • Then, make 3 as 0

Once this is done, then add up your scores across all the 10 items. Note that your total score must range between 0 and 30. The higher the score, the higher is your self-esteem. The lower the score, the lower is your self-esteem.

II. Texas Social Behavior Inventory

Texas Social Behavior Inventory is another important measure that researchers use to determine the self-esteem level of an individual. Again, this scale is used to measure the global self-esteem of an individual.

In addition to measuring an individual’s global self-esteem, the Texas Social Behavior Inventory also measures the level of comfort and competence an individual feels when exposed socially. 

Note that the scores of the Texas Social Behavior Inventory scale are related to the scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. However, both scales measure different outcomes.

For instance, an individual may like himself or herself but may not feel comfortable in social situations. Likewise, a person may feel relaxed and enjoy with other people socially. However, such a person may not like himself or herself on the whole. For this reason, the Rosenberg scale is the appropriate one to use for measuring global self-esteem.

The following table showcases the Texas Social Behavior Inventory Scale.

1.I am not likely to speak to people untilthey speak to me.12345
2.I would describe myself as self-confident.12345
3.I feel confident about my appearance.12345
4.I am a good mixer.12345
5.When in a group of people, I have trouble thinking of the right things to say.12345
6.When in a group of people, I usually do what others want rather than make my own suggestions.12345
7.When I’m in a disagreement with other people, my opinion usually prevails.12345
8.I would describe myself as one who attempts to master situations.12345
9.Other people look up to me.12345
10.I enjoy social gatherings just to be with people.12345
11.I make a point of looking other people in the eye.12345
12.I cannot seem to get others to notice me.12345
13.I would rather not have much responsibility for other people. 12345
14.I feel comfortable being approached by someone in a position of authority over me.12345
15.I would describe myself as indecisive.12345
16.I have no doubts about my social competence.12345

To calculate the score, you first have to reverse the score of the negatively worded statements. In this case, the negatively worded statements include statement numbers 1, 5, 6, 12, 13, and 15. Reverse the score for each of these statements as below:

  • Make 1 as 5
  • Then, make 2 as 4
  • Make 3 as 3
  • Then, make 4 as 2
  • Finally, make 5 as 1

Once this is done, then add up your scores for all the 16 items. Doing so, your total score must fall between 0 and 80. The higher the score, the higher is the self-esteem.

In addition to the above self-reporting measures to determine self-esteem, there are other measures as well. These include a rating scale that H.W. March developed in the year 1990. 

This is an extensive measure that is used to assess the manner in which people evaluate themselves in various domains of life. These include items include physical abilities, appearance, problem-solving abilities, social skills, peer relationships, opposite-sex relationships, and emotional stability.

Another rating scale to measure self-esteem for adolescents and teens was suggested by Harter. This rating scale included subscales that helped in assessing the scholastic competence, athletic competence, social acceptance, physical appearance, and behavioral conduct of an adolescent. 

Note that this type of self-esteem rating scale focused on people having different self-esteem levels for different attributes, situations, and activities. Generally, these scales also include a separate subscale to measure global self-esteem.

Challenges With The Self-Reporting Measures of Self-Esteem

There is no doubt that these self-reporting measures of self-esteem predict a high level of valid outcomes. But these measures incorporate certain challenges.

For instance, as per Baumeister, Tice, and Hutton (1989), certain self-report measures give scores that incorporate self-presentational challenges. What this means is that there is a high probability that people may distort their responses instead of rating how they really feel about themselves. This is because they want to create a particular impression about themselves in the minds of other people. 

Note that a high self-esteem score represents a personality that is assertive and interpersonal. Accordingly, a person possessing such a personality is one who is willing to present oneself to others in a highly positive manner. Likewise, a low self-esteem score represents a personality that is modestly interpersonal. Accordingly, a person having such a personality is the one who is reluctant to present oneself in a highly positive matter. 

Thus, these self-presentational patterns showcase that they are somewhere correlated to how people feel about themselves personally.

In addition to how a person feels about himself or herself privately, he or she may also become defensive when undertaking self-evaluation with regard to self-esteem. 

Accordingly, people rating themselves high on self-report measures of self-esteem fool themselves. They defensively claim to feel better about themselves than they really do. But not all forms of self-deception are unhealthy. Some forms of self-deception are actually healthy. This is because it plays an important role in making psychological adjustments when required.

Thus, researchers like Greenwald and Banaji (1995) have suggested that one must adopt methods from cognitive psychology. Such methods can help to overcome the potential limitations of self-report measures of self-esteem. 

How? Well, as per researchers the cognitive measures of self-esteem such as response latencies, recognition thresholds, and the like are implicit in nature. These measures are less transparent relative to the self-report questionnaires. This means that while taking such tests people would be unaware that their self-esteem was being assessed. 

Theories of Self-Esteem

There are different theories of Self-Esteem that demonstrate how high self-esteem and low self-esteem get developed in an individual. These self-esteem models help us in understanding where self-esteem comes from in an individual. 

I. Affective Models of Self-Esteem

The Affective Models of Self-Esteem are the ones based on an assumption that self-esteem develops at an early age and is characterized by feelings of belongingness and mastery.

Components of Self-Esteem 

A. Feelings of Belonging

The feeling of belongingness is the one in which a person feels that he is loved and valued unconditionally socially. Such a person does not feel as if he is loved or valued for any particular quality or reason. In fact, he believes that he is loved or valued simply for who he is.

Note that a sense of belonging gives people a secure base in life. It gives them the feeling that they are valued and respected irrespective of whatever happens. 

It is important to note that there is a thin line difference between feelings of belonging and reflected appraisals. 

Reflected appraisals refer to the conscious perceptions that a person has about himself of how others view him. If other people believe that a person is funny, then such a person believes that he is witty. That is, reflected appraisals are more intuitive in nature. 

Whereas, the feelings of belonging represent that a person is loved by others and has a sense of security that such feelings bring.

B. Feelings of Mastery

Another important aspect of self-esteem is a sense of mastery. A sense of mastery refers to the perception a person has about himself that he is impacting the world in some way or the other. 

The kind of influence the person is having on the world may not necessarily be largescale in nature. Such an influence can be the one that a person may have in his day-to-day life.

It is important to note that the sense of mastery is not the same as perceived competence. For instance, there is no need for a pianist to think that he is a pianist. Likewise, there is no requirement for a top-rated student in the school to develop a sense of mastery. This is because the feeling of mastery is the one that an individual gets when he is immersed in an activity or is striving to overcome some obstacle.

Let us explain the difference between mastery and perceived competence using a simple example. Say a writer is writing a book. While writing the book, he feels the words or thoughts that come to his mind. He gets numerous joys in researching a topic and creating a story out of it. 

Thus, the joy that comes from that experience creates feelings of mastery. These feelings promote high self-esteem. But such feelings are not the same as believing that one is a “good writer.”

Writing a book involves a process. It involves numerous joys in creating and manipulating the story for a writer. 

On the other hand, perceived competence or evaluation is based on the outcomes that one achieves in life. Thus, it is a judgment an individual makes about himself of whether he is good or bad at something. 

So, the effective models of self-esteem maintain that the feeling of mastery is relevant to the origin of self-esteem and not the perceived competence.

Development of Self-Esteem 

The Affective Models of Self-Esteem claim that the feelings of belonging and mastery develop early in an individual’s life. Erik Erikson, the Danish-German-American developmental psychologist, developed the stages of development in humans

As per the stage development theory, there are eight different stages of personality development in an individual. 

The first stage is the Basic Trust Vs Mistrust stage. As per this stage of psychosocial development,  the first developmental task that infants face is establishing feelings of trust with their caregivers. These feelings of trust are assumed to develop during the first year of life. Further, such feelings correspond to the feelings of belonging that are important for an individual to have a sense of high self-esteem.

The second stage of Erikson’s Psychosocial Development theory is the  “Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt” stage. During this stage, children develop feelings of mastery. They develop such feelings only when they are encouraged to explore, create, and modify their world.

However, children may fail to develop such feelings when their parents subvert, ridicule, or are overly critical of their efforts. So what encourages children to explore, create, and modify their world? It is the healthy caregiver-child relationship that leads to developing attachment bonds and hence high self-esteem.

Attachment Bonds and Self-Esteem

In Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, the caregiver-child relationship plays an important role. In fact, this relationship plays a key role in other theories of self-esteem development as well including Baumeister & Leary, Bowlby, Epstein, and Sullivan. 

But the theory that is most relevant to the caregiver-child relationship with the perspective of the development of attachment bonds is Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. 

Bowlby was keen to know the foundations and primary functions of attachment bonds between a child and his caregiver. He observed that infants bond with their caregivers, particularly with their mothers, both in humans and other animals. 

The reason why this happened was the fact that the mother-child attachment relationship served a paradoxical function. 

What this means is that a child feels safe to leave the mother and explore the surrounding environment when it becomes securely attached to the mother. As per Bowlby, the secure attachment of the child with the mother developed the feeling of belonging within the child. Further, such a feeling led to a willingness within the child to explore the surrounding environment, a feeling called a sense of mastery. 

This means that individuals of any age are likely to explore the environment away from their attachment figure (mother in this case) when they feel secure. However, such individuals feel an urge toward proximity or staying close to their attachment figure when they feel alarmed, anxious, tired, or unwell.  

Thus, there exists a typical pattern of interaction between the child and the parent. This pattern is called “exploration from a secure base”. This pattern exists in healthy children who believe that their parents are accessible and will be responsive when called upon. This is because they feel secure enough to explore the environment away from their parent.

A series of studies (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) were conducted using a procedure called the strange situation to understand such typical patterns. As a part of such studies, a young child, around 14 months of age, visits a psychological laboratory with his or her mother. Bot the child and the mother are made to sit in a room having a number of interesting toys and objects. 

The first variable that the researchers are keen on studying is the degree to which the child explores the objects initially in the room. 

Then, the second variable that the researchers want to study is the manner in which the child reacts to the separation from the mother.

As a part of the study, the mother leaves the child alone with a stranger unexpectedly after staying together with the child for a few minutes. The researchers note the child’s emotional reaction to the mother’s departure. 

Several minutes later, the mother returns and the researcher notes the child’s emotional and behavioral reaction to the mother’s return. In this way, the researchers measure the degree to which a child uses the mother as a secure base from which to explore the environment. In addition to this, they also note down the extent to which such a child considers the mother as a source of comfort in times of stress.

Different Attachment Styles

These studies led to the recognition of three different attachment styles.

  • The first one is secure attachment. In this attachment style, the infants showcase a healthy balance between closeness to the mother and independence. Such infants readily separate from their mothers to explore the surrounding environment during the first phase of the strange situation procedure. Although they may be distressed when their mother leaves, such children are curious to see her when she returns. Furthermore, such children enjoy engaging her as well in their play and share their discoveries with her.
  • The second attachment style is the anxious/ambivalent attachment style. The children with such an attachment style face difficulty separating during the first phase of the procedure. That is, they are not willing or are afraid to explore the environment. Thus, such children become very distressed and upset when their mother leaves. Although they feel comforted to a certain extent when their mother returns. But, they cling to her and show other signs of insecure dependence.
  • The third attachment style is the avoidant attachment style. These children tend to avoid or ignore their mothers altogether. They appear to have little difficulty separating during the first phase of the procedure, and they outwardly exhibit few signs of distress when their mother leaves. Furthermore, they show little interest in her when she returns, preferring instead to play alone rather than interact with her. Importantly, the indifference these infants display toward their mothers is contradicted by an inner sense of anxiety and distress. Rather than being secure and independent, avoidant children are evading intimacy and closeness with their mothers.

Thus, these attachment styles may display the essence of self-esteem. For instance, avoidant infants may develop feelings of mastery. That’s because such infants explore the

Environment willingly. However, they lack a sense of belonging. In other words, such infants fail to develop a strong emotional bond with their mothers.

Likewise, infants who are anxious or insecure may have a sense of belonging. But, they do not develop feelings of mastery. They get distressed easily and are not willing to meet people face-to-face.

However, infants attached to their mothers in a secure way showcase a strong sense of belonging as well as mastery. These children have everything that is necessary to build high self-esteem. This conclusion is supported by research. 

Bowlby developed the concept of the “internal working model” to prove why the early attachment of an infant to the mother has an enduring effect. As per this model, Bowlby explains that as children grow older, they develop a working model of the attachment relationship between themselves and their mothers.

Therefore, a child having a secure attachment with the mother believes that she is good and is worth loving. Whereas, a child having an insecure attachment with the mother believes that she is bad and is not worth loving. 

Also, infants having the above-mentioned attachment styles with their mothers tend to generalize such beliefs to other people and situations as well. Such beliefs form the foundation for the development of self-esteem.

What this means is that a child who believes that he or she is unwanted by his parents also believes that he is unwanted by anyone. On the other hand, a child who believes that he or she is much-loved by his or her parents may have confidence in his parents’ affection.  Also, such children have confidence in other people and believed they are loved by them.

II. Cognitive Models of Self-Esteem

The nature and origin of self-esteem are explained differently under the Cognitive Models of Self-Esteem. These models consider self-esteem as a conscious decision that people make with regard to their worth as an individual.

For instance, you will have high self-esteem if you believe that you possess many socially desirable qualities. Thus, cognitive models signify how an individual evaluates himself or herself in different aspects of life is what determines the self-esteem of an individual.

Cognitive Models of Self-Esteem Formation

The first cognitive model of self-esteem is called the Add-Em-Up Model. This is the simplest of all the three cognitive models and assumes that an individual’s self-esteem is the aggregate of the way such an individual evaluates his or her specific qualities and


The following tables explain the three cognitive approaches to self-esteem. These tables showcase the responses of individuals who rank themselves in terms of 4 attributes using seven-point scales. The attributes include attractiveness, intelligence, likeness, and athleticism. Further, the 7-point scales are as follows: 1= not at all attractive; 7= very attractive. 

For instance, Person A believes he is quite attractive, not terribly intelligent, reasonably well-liked, and very athletic. Likewise, Person B believes he is not terribly attractive, very intelligent, moderately well-liked, and not very athletic.

 Add-Em-Up Model

The table below showcases the individual responses in the case of the Add-Em-Up model. As mentioned earlier, this model of self-esteem assumes that global self-esteem represents the sum of the way individuals evaluate their more specific qualities. 

Thus, we simply need to add up the four self-evaluation scores to determine each person’s self-esteem score. Using this approach, one can anticipate that Person A has higher self-esteem relative to Person B.

Add-em-up Model
AttractiveIntelligentWell-Liked AthleticSelf-Esteem
Person A525719
Person B374317

This is because Person A evaluates himself more positively than does Person B. However, there is one limitation of using this method to evaluate an individual’s self-esteem level. This method overlooks the fact that different things are important to different people.

For instance, if sports are more important for person A and academics are more important to person B, then B may feel better about himself relative to A.

Thus, the above example promotes the idea that self-esteem depends on what a person thinks about himself or herself in the areas of high personal importance. What this means is that the outcomes in the areas of high personal importance have a greater impact on the self-esteem of a person than do the outcomes in the areas of low personal importance. 

In addition to this, a person may also feel good about himself or herself when he or she is able to achieve outcomes that exceed his or her personal standards. Likewise, a person may feel bad about himself or herself when he or she achieves outcomes that fall short of his or her personal standards. 

However, of the two, more importance is given to the ‘significance of different attributes’ as a determinant of the self-esteem of a person. Thus, if someone respects himself in certain aspects, then he respects himself in general. For example, if he thinks he is smart, attractive, likable, moral, interesting, and so on, then he thinks well of himself in general. 

But it is clear that a person’s global self-esteem is based not only on the assessment of his qualities but on an assessment of the qualities that matter to him. Thus, the differential importance of self-concept components is thus critically significant for self-esteem.

Weight-Em By Importance Model

This model assumes that self-esteem depends on how individuals evaluate themselves in specific aspects as well as on how important they think it is to be good in those domains. 

The following table showcases the responses of Persons A and B. These responses showcase the order in which each of the four attributes is important for both persons. For instance, point 1 is for least important and point 4 is for most important.

Weight-Em By Importance Model
AttractiveIntelligentWell-Liked AthleticSelf-Esteem
Person A5 * (2)2 * (3)5 * (4)7 * (1)43
Person B3 * (1)7 * (4)4 * (3)3 * (2)49

Then, the individuals need to multiply each of the self-evaluation scores by its corresponding importance rating. This rating is mentioned within the brackets. Finally, individuals need to add the products.

As you can see, the individuals are able to anticipate that Person B has higher self-esteem as compared to Person A using the Weight-Em By Importance Model. Person B has higher self-esteem than Person A because Person B values what he thinks he is good at more than Person A does.

Self-Ideal Model

The self-ideal model of self-esteem assumes that self-esteem depends on the difference between who the individuals think they are at present and who they would ideally like to be. 

The following table showcases the responses of Persons A and B in terms of how attractive, intelligent, well-liked, and athletic they would like to be. 

Self-Ideal Model
AttractiveIntelligentWell-Liked AthleticSelf-Esteem
Person A5 – (7)2 – (6)5 – (7)7 – (6)-7
Person B3 – (3)7 – (4)4 – (7)3 – (2)+1

For this, they use 7 rating scales where 1 means ‘not at all and 7 means ‘very’. Then, the individuals subtract these ideal self-ratings, mentioned in brackets, from their corresponding self-evaluation scores. Finally, they sum up the differences. 

Thus, using this approach, they are able to predict that Person B has higher self-esteem as compared to Person A. 

III. Sociological Models of Self-Esteem

The basic assumption of the Sociological Models of Self-Esteem is that the societal factors influence the self-esteem of an individual. Accordingly, individuals have high self-esteem if they believe that society at large values them and regards them highly. Taking this into consideration, sociological variables like occupational prestige, income, education, and social status are assumed to impact the self-esteem of individuals. 

However, there is weak evidence that supports such an association. It has been found that the successful, the affluent, the well educated, and the socially privileged do not have higher self-esteem relative to the people who are less advantaged in these areas. 

In fact, people belonging to the stigmatized and minority groups were observed to report higher levels of self-esteem at times relative to those more privileged. One of the reasons of higher self-esteem in disadvantaged groups can be group pride. 

Note that the minority groups are currently encouraged to view their minority status as a badge of honor rather than a stigma. Take, for instance, the Gay pride movement and other similar social movements. In the case of such movements, the group pride impacts the self-esteem of the members of the respective social movements.

This means that as per the social identity theory, self-esteem depends, in part, on the group memberships or social identities of people. People who view their social groups positively enjoy greater self-esteem as compared to those who see their social groups negatively. 

As per research, self-esteem was observed to be positively correlated with a measure of collective self-esteem. Here, collective self-esteem means the extent to which people view or evaluate their social groups in favorable terms. 

Note that such a correlation does not prove that positive group evaluations result in high self-esteem. However, it does establish that personal self-esteem and collective self-esteem are related. 

In addition to the above, research suggested another reason for why members of socially disadvantaged groups do not have low self-esteem. Accordingly, socially disadvantaged groups do not have a low self-esteem as they are able to protect themselves from prejudice and discrimination by:

  • regarding negative feedback to prejudice against their group rather than to themselves; 
  • selectively comparing their own outcomes with other members of the group rather than with members of the majority group; 
  • devaluing attributes on which their group is weak and magnifying the importance of attributes on which their group excels