Define self-esteem, including contingencies of self-worth. When might the pursuit of self-esteem be harmful to individuals? When might threats to self-esteem be helpful?
Contingencies of self-worth comprise those qualities a person believes he or she must have in order to class as a person of worth and value; proponents claim the contingencies as the core of self-esteem.
Contingencies of self-worth can motivate [ well, but often have great costs to relationships, learning, autonomy, self-regulation, and mental and physical health. Using their contingencies of
self-worth, people attempt to validate or “prove” their abilities and qualities to themselves and to others.
In the field of social psychology, Jennifer Crocker has carried out major research on the topic of contingencies of self-worth. She says that her research "explores what it is that people believe they need to be or do to have value and worth as a person, and the consequences of those beliefs". She claims that people pursue self-esteem by trying to prove that they have worth and value, and this pursuit affects "the satisfaction of the fundamental human needs for learning, relationships, autonomy, self-regulation, and mental and physical health" (Crocker, 2007). Crocker argues that this pursuit of self-worth affects not only the individual, but everyone around the person as well.
According to the "Contingencies of Self-Worth model" people differ in their bases of self-esteem. Their beliefs — beliefs about what they think they need to do or who they need to "be" in order to class as a person of worth — form these bases. Crocker and her colleagues (2001) identified six "domains" in which people frequently derive their self-worth, including:
2. support of family
3. academic competence
4. physical attractiveness
5. gaining others' approval
Individuals who base their self-worth in a specific domain leave themselves much more vulnerable to having their self-esteem threatened when negative events happen to them within that domain (such as when they fail a test at school). ]
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