Definition: Personal Empowerment – SelfGrowth.com

Posted: January 22, 2016 at 2:40 pm


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Self-worth leads to Personal Empowerment

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:

1. virtue 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). A 2003 study by Crocker found that students who based their contingency of self-worth on academic criteria had a greater likelihood of experiencing lower-state self-esteem, greater negative affect, and negative self-evaluative thoughts when they did not perform well on academic tasks, when they received poor grades, or when graduate schools rejected them.

Research by Crocker and her colleagues also suggests that contingencies of self-worth have self-regulatory properties. Crocker et al. define successful self-regulation as the willingness to exert effort toward ones most important goals, while taking setbacks and failures as opportunities to learn, identify weaknesses and address them, and develop new strategies toward achieving those goals. Since many individuals strive for a feeling of worthiness, it makes sense that those people would experience special motivation to succeed and actively to avoid failure in the domains on which they base their own self-worth. Accordingly, successful self-regulation can prove difficult for people aiming to maintain and enhance their self-esteem, because they would have to actually embrace failure or criticism as a learning-opportunity, rather than avoid it. Instead, when a task which individuals see as fundamental to their self-worth proves difficult and failure seems probable, contingencies of self-worth lead to stress, feelings of pressure, and a loss of intrinsic motivation. In these cases, highly contingent people may withdraw from the situation. On the other hand, the positive emotional affect following success in a domain of contingency may become addictive for the highly contingent individual. Over time, these people may require even greater successes to achieve the same satisfaction or emotional high. Therefore, the goal to succeed can become a relentless quest for these individuals.

Researchers such as Crocker believe that people confuse the boosts to self-esteem resulting from successes with true human needs, such as learning, mutually supportive relationships, autonomy, and safety. Crocker claims that people do not seek "self-esteem", but basic human needs, and that the contingencies on which they base their self-esteem has more importance than the level of self-esteem itself.

Wikipedia, the free enclyclopedia © 2001-2008 Wikipedia Contributors This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License

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January 22nd, 2016 at 2:40 pm