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  1. Christopher J. Mruk

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0837

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Mruk, C. J. 2010. Self-Esteem. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Bowling Green State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The term self-esteem was first coined by William James in 1890, which makes it one of the oldest concepts in psychology. Self-esteem's importance is often seen in relation to such crucial areas as human motivation, development, performance, coping ability, relationship formation, psychopathology, and mental health or overall well-being. Self-esteem also appears to be the third most frequently occurring theme in psychological literature, with more than 25,000 articles, chapters, and books written on the topic (Rodewalt & Tragakis, 2003). Given such a long and important history, it is not surprising to find several definitions of self-esteem in the field (Mruk, 2006). Three of these definitions generate distinct schools of thought consisting of central ideas about self-esteem, major theories consistent with each set of ideas, and a related body of research concerning the role self-esteem plays in behavior. Therefore, understanding self-esteem and its field requires appreciating each position, especially in terms of relative strengths and weaknesses.


  • self-esteem;
  • authenticity;
  • well-being;
  • coping;
  • psychopathology