The Self and Self Esteem

The psychodynamic theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Erik Erikson, the phenomenological (self) theories of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, and the social learning theories of Julian Rotter and Albert Bandura have all provided suggestions and guidelines for the construction of a number of personality assessment instruments. The psychoanalytic concepts of the ego, Erikson's concept of identity, the phenomenological concept of the self, and associated concepts in social learning theory (e.g., Rotter's locus of control and Bandura's self-efficacy) have stimulated the development of many psychometric procedures and research on how the perception of the central core of the personality—the "I" or "me"—of the individual develops and changes over time. Research with such measures has shown, for example, that self-esteem changes with age but that the manner in which the change occurs varies with the sex of the person. Kermis (1986) found that, for men, the peak in self-esteem is typically reached during middle age and declines somewhat after then. For women, however, self-esteem tends to peak during the childbearing and child-rearing years, after which it declines until around age 65 and then rises again. Rather than being the result of aging per se, however, the decline in self-esteem of many older adults is due to events occurring at that time. Such events include accidents, war, economic depression, and other upheavals in the physical and social environments, as well as failures, serious health problems, and other personal setbacks.

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