Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

pp 1705-1707


  • Ole Jacob MadsenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Oslo Email author 


In psychology self-esteem basically refers to a person’s assessment or appraisal of his or her own worth. From the perspective of critical psychology ‘self-esteem’ is a noteworthy case as self-esteem is currently considered a universal psychological quality of outmost importance for personal well-being within mainstream and popular psychology, while a genealogical recount reveals a contingent psychological concept that only recently emerged in the public mindset.


Self-esteem has traditionally been defined as a stable sense of personal worth and worthiness (Rosenberg, 1965). Self-esteem is related to similar notions like self-worth, self-regard and self-respect that all encompass the individual’s beliefs about his or herself like “I am lovable person” etc. It is not uncommon however to distinguish between self-esteem and ‘self-confidence’ as the latter is more related to a person’s sense of personal capacity rather than personal worth, and refe ...

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