'confidence' and 'self-esteem'.

Essay by jontom8High School, 11th gradeA, June 2003

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An eager young kindergarten student raises his hand. "The answer is five!" he exclaims. The teacher applauds the student for his attempt, although the correct answer is four. The teacher rewards him with a sticker, assuring him of his wonderful job. The child's self-esteem is boosted by all the praise; it does not matter to him that his answer was incorrect. He will continue to believe that he is a competent student, while in reality he might be quite the opposite. This type of situation highlights the differences between the words "self-esteem" and "confidence": self-esteem is manufactured and disregards the outcomes, while confidence is earned and is primarily concerned with previous results.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word "self-esteem" as "favourable appreciation or opinion of oneself" (Volume 9). As the definition states, self-esteem is simply how one thinks of oneself. Thus, high self-esteem is having high regard for oneself and low self-esteem is having a low appreciation of oneself.

The word itself originated in 1657, and was popularized when those associated with phrenology, the study of the shape and size of the cranium as an indication of character, assigned it a "bump" on one's cranium (Harper).

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word "confidence" as "feeling sure or certain of a fact or issue; assurance, certitude, assured expectation" (Volume 2). The word "confidence"originated in the fourteenth century from the Latin word "confidentia," meaning "to trust" (Harper). Confidence can be understood from the definition to mean being certain of one's abilities. Having confidence in onself, therefore, means to be sure that one can perform, act, or react accordingly in a situation.

As the definitions illustrate, confidence and self-esteem, while closely affiliated with one another, have two very different definitions. While the meanings of the two words are both associated with...