Contingencies of Self-Worth
We argue that the importance of self-esteem lies in what people believe they need to be or do to have worth as a person. These contingencies of self-worth are both sources of motivation and areas of psychological vulnerability. In domains of contingent self-worth, people pursue self-esteem by attempting to validate their abilities and qualities. This pursuit of self-esteem, we argue, has costs to learning, relationships, autonomy, self-regulation, and mental and physical health. We suggest alternatives to this costly pursuit of self-esteem.