Compare two theories of self-esteem which contribute to our understanding of self-concept

May 11, 2018 Health

In this task I will compare two theories of self-esteem which contribute to our understanding of self-concept. The theories which I will be focused on are Bowlby’s and Harter’s. Bowlby theory Bowlby worked for many years as a child psychoanalyst so was clearly very influenced by Freud’s theories and child development. However, he also liked the work of Lorenz on the innate nature of bonds through imprinting and combined these two very different ideas to produce his own evolutionary theory of attachments.

Bowlby believed that attachment is innate and adaptive. We are all born with an inherited need to form attachments and this is to help us survive. In line with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, any behaviour that helps you survive to maturity and reproduce yourself will be maintained in the gene pool. In human terms, the new born infant is helpless and relies on its mother for food, warmth etc. Similarly the mother inherits a genetic blueprint that predisposes her to loving behaviour towards the infant.

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Bowlby believed that an attachment promotes survival in 3 ways: •Safety: the attachment keeps mother and child close to each other. Separation results in feelings of anxiety. •Safe base for exploration: the child is happy to wander and explore (necessary for its cognitive development) knowing it has a safe place to return to if things turn nasty. This also develops independence necessary in later life. •Internal working model: This was based on Freud’s idea of the mother-child relationship acting as a prototype for all future attachments.

Bowlby believed that this first relationship forms a template or schema that gives the child a feel for what a relationship is. It uses this in future years to develop other relationships and is particularly important in determining the parenting skills in later life. An Adult’s mental health can be affected by their experiences in early childhood. All human beings have an innate need to attach to one main attachment figure. The attachment figure (usually mother) must provide continuous care for the first two years.

If the attachment figure is disrupted or broken the child will suffer irreversible long term consequences of maternal deprivation including delinquency, reduced intelligence, increased aggression, depression and affectionless psychopathy (an inability to show affection or concern for others. No guilt for anti-social behaviour). Harter’s theory Harter carries forward the work of James (1993) and Cooley. Those with low self-esteem are almost certainly depressed and among many adolescent’s, such depression, in turn, leads to thoughts of suicide.

There are multiple pathways to depression representing different combinations of feelings lack of support from peers and parents. Multiple selves are created in adolescence for example cheerful with friends but depressed with parents or outgoing with friends but inhibited in romance relationships. Usually, females experience the most conflict with true self versus false self-behaviour. Similarities and differences between two theories There quite a few similarities and differences between each of the two theories that I’ve introduced above. The main similarities include: •Both theories are linking early stages of human being lives.

Harter’s theory is mainly based on young adults and how their self-esteem is affected by their peer group and parents. On the other hand, Bowlby’s theory is saying that self-esteem of every individual is linked to their early childhood and wherever they did get enough of attachment with one main attachment figure; usually mother. We can say that both theorists suggest that self-esteem is something that we develop from early stages of our lives. •Another similarity of the two theories is that they both talking about bad side effects and how they can influence our self-esteem.

Harter’s theory is saying that in adolescence we are likely to have low self-esteem which might link to things like depression or even thought of suicide. Bowlby theory is saying about bad sides of not being attached or being attached too short to main attachment figure, which can lead to reduced intelligence and depression. •Both theories are linking their conclusion into one of the bad side effects- depression. They both suggest that if our self-esteem is low and our ideal-self is far away from self-image we can suffer from depression.

The main differences include: •Harter’s theory is focused on a groups of people and how they affect our self-esteem, whereas Bowlby’s is focused on one main attachment figure and how it can affect our self-esteem. Susan Harter suggest that our self-esteem is based on wherever other groups of people accept as or not. If not, we create multiple self’s to fit in into most of the groups of people. Bowlby on the other hand suggest that our self-esteem is influenced by mainly one person who were our main attachment figure is the first two years of our life.

•Harter’s theory suggest that mostly women are likely to have multiple self’s and that they have most problems with recognising their true self and false self. Bowlby’s theory is not based or directed to any specific gender. It speaks about that all human beings have an innate need to attach to one main attachment figure regardless gender. •Harter’s theory says that every person mainly in their adolescence experiencing low self-esteem in some sort of way whereas Bowlby’s theory is based only on broken attachment and that we can suffer from low self-esteem only in the case when that certain attachment is broken.

John Bowlby said that low self-esteem affect only some of the people. On the other hand, Susan Harter said that every person will suffer from low self-esteem in their adolescence. In conclusion I’m more convinced to Susan Harter theory. I believe that every person suffers from low self-esteem in adolescence stage of their life. By creating multiple-self’s we are trying to fit into some sort of groups because our self-esteem is not high enough and our self-image is not what we want to be.

By creating multiple-self’s and being able to fit into the group of people we like, we boost our self-esteem and we become more confident about ourselves. The acceptance of the people who are role models to us can really make a difference in our lives especially in relation to self-esteem. In my opinion, the more people accept us the higher our self-esteem is because we realise that we must be worthwhile in some kind of way if that many people accept us. It is true that we can change ourselves depending on the group that we are in just to make sure that we are accepted.


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