Self Concept vs Self Esteem and Self Efficacy

What makes you ‘you’? 

It’s a question that makes you think and evaluate yourself. 

It’s something that makes you look back and reflect on your attitude and your actions towards yourself and towards other people. 

While you are thinking of an answer to the question, you are actually thinking of your self-concept and self-esteem. 

But what do they really mean and why are they important?

Let’s dive right into it.

Importance Of Self Concept and Self Esteem

Self-concept and self-esteem are words that you might have already heard for a number of times, however, some people might not know the difference between the two. 

Self-concept is what one thinks about himself. 

It encompasses how you evaluate, assess, and perceive yourself. Your self-concept might be built up by several factors such as personal experiences, thoughts, environment, and even through interactions with other people. 

Self-concept is also how you label yourself as. Psychologist Michael Lewis suggested that there are two aspects which affect the development of one’s self-concept: 

Self-Concept and Self-Esteem
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  • Existential Self.
    Lewis proposed that being aware of our existential self begins even at a very young age.
    In this aspect, we already know that we are a separate individual or entity from others and continue to exist over time and space. 
  • Categorial Self.
    Already aware that we are distinct from other people, we realize that we are also an object.
    In this aspect, we begin to categorize ourselves in different properties such as gender, size, age, and skill at an early age.
    As we grow up, we continue to perceive ourselves by referencing other people’s perceptions of us, comparative evaluations, and psychological traits. 

On the other hand, self-esteem is how you regard or respect yourself. 

This is more on the emotional side as it is based on your attitude towards yourself. 

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People may have high self-esteem (have positive views about oneself) or low self-esteem (have negative views about oneself). 

If you have high self-esteem, you exhibit the following signs:

  • High confidence
  • Optimistic
  • Self-acceptance
  • Has a positive outlook on life
  • Able to reflect on strengths and weaknesses effectively
  • Has the ability to freely express yourself
  • Doesn’t worry what others think
  • Being open to change
  • Assertive

If you have unhealthy or low self-esteem, you usually exhibit the following signs:

  • Has a negative outlook on life
  • Lack of confidence
  • Unable to express yourself
  • Resists change 
  • Always criticizing or blaming yourself
  • Pessimistic
  • Always worrying about what others might think
  • Fear of failing
  • Always focusing on weaknesses

Both self-concept and self-esteem are heavily influenced by how you observe yourself and how you think others see you be it positive or negative. 

These can also be formed through a comparison of yourself and other people. 

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Why Is Self Concept And Self Esteem Important?

Self-Concept vs Self-Esteem
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Self-concept is derived from one’s self-esteem and self-efficacy which is one’s belief that they are able to accomplish their goals. 

They work together as a total understanding of yourself. 

These dictate how you behave and how you will fit into society. 

They also serve as motivations in order to reach success especially to people with positive self-concept and self-esteem. 

If you have a healthy self-concept and self-esteem, you will be more open to stepping out of your comfort zone and be more confident about reaching your goals and dreams. 

These two concepts work together in determining how your interactions and attitude will affect your daily life. 

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Components/ Dimensions of Self Concept, Self Esteem, and Self Efficacy

Self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and other forms of self constructs are all multi-dimensional. 

Our self-identity is made out of how we perceive ourselves and our behavior in different aspects such as in social, religious, spiritual, physical, and emotional areas. 

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the development of our identities. 

These constructs all have different elements and components that may also change through time because of experiences and external influences. 

Psychologists throughout the years have studied our belief in ourselves. 

In 1992, Dr. Bruce A. Bracken speculated that there are six domains which are related to our self-concept:

  • Social (ability to interact with others)
  • Academic (achievements or failures in school)
  • Competence (ability to meet basic needs)
  • Physical (perception of general appearance, looks, and health)
  • Family (how one functions within the family unit)
  • Affect (awareness of emotional states)

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Is Self Esteem Part Of Self Concept?

Carl Rogers, one of the most influential humanistic psychologists, theorized that a person can reach his goals and desires in life when self-actualization takes place. 

In his Theory of Personality, self-concept has three main components:

  • Self-image or the way we see ourselves
  • Self-esteem or how we value ourselves
  • Ideal self or the self we want to be

Based on Roger’s theory, self-esteem is a part of self-concept and it contributes to the way we evaluate our self. 

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What Are The 4 Sources Of Self Efficacy?

Psychologist Albert Bandura proposed the self-efficacy theory where he believed that every person has a belief that they have the ability to influence events in their life and have control over them. 

According to Bandura, these are the four sources of self-efficacy:

  1. Mastery experiences. For Bandura, the best way to develop self-efficacy is through mastery experiences or when one performs a task successfully. Self-efficacy can also be strengthened by constantly practicing to learn and improve skills.
  2. Vicarious experiences. Self-efficacy can be developed by having a role model who displays high self-efficacy. A person is most likely to absorb positive beliefs when he sees someone succeed in what they do.
  3. Verbal or social persuasion. Positive words coming from other people can also be a huge factor in developing self-efficacy. When others give encouragement, it makes a person believe that he will succeed.
  4. Emotional and physiological responses. This refers to the overall well-being of a person. If one maintains a healthy lifestyle, his self-efficacy will also be strengthened. 
Self Concept vs Self Esteem

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Self Concept and Self Esteem Examples

Because these social constructs are multi-dimensional, we may see ourselves in a positive or negative light. 

A lot of factors come into play in the foundation of our belief in our self. 

But whether it is positive or negative, these things make up who we are. 

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What Are Some Examples Of Self Concept?

Self-concept can either be positive or negative. 

People have different perceptions of themselves and some might even have a positive self-concept in one aspect while having a negative self-concept in another. 

Here are some examples of self-concept:

  • One thinks he is very generous to other people
  • One thinks he is stubborn
  • One thinks he is a valuable asset to the company
  • One thinks other people see him as lazy
  • One might think she is good in academics but not in sports
  • One might think he is very selfish
  • One might describe himself as very energetic during the weekends but sluggish during the weekdays
  • One might think she is a great mother to her kids and a wife to her husband
  • One might think she is always neat and orderly 

Is Self Esteem The Same As Self Image?

Self-esteem refers to how you accept and how much value you place on yourself. 

This can be positive or negative depending on your own evaluation. 

On the other hand, self-image refers to your own physical description, social roles, and personal traits.
This does not necessarily reflect reality and, most of the time, we have a distorted perception of ourselves. 

While self-esteem and self-image are different from these aspects, their similarity lies in the fact that they can be positive in some specific areas while being negative in some. 

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.