Self-esteem refers to one's overall positive or negative evaluation of oneself and can be viewed in a variety of ways: as an enduring trait, as stable versus fragile, as specific domains of contingent self-worth, or as a goal that people pursue. Self-esteem is thought to develop in childhood and remains relatively stable over time. Although there are costs associated with different types of self-esteem, there are alternatives to pursuing self-esteem that may help to reduce the costs.

There is tremendous emphasis in North American culture on self-esteem, with continuing discussion over whether self-esteem is a universal need or is unique to North American culture. In popular culture, thousands of self-help books and child-rearing manuals have been written on this topic; in the scientific community, more than ...

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