Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Self-confidence

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Why Does Self-Confidence Matter and How can it be Developed?

Overview[edit | edit source]

This book chapter will be discussing what self-confidence is, why is it important and why does it matter. In most societies, self-confidence has been seen and viewed as a valuable and important asset that an individual can have(Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). This chapter will guide you through all you need to know about self-confidence and how it relates to motivation. You should be able to answer all the focus questions by the end of this book chapter and you will find useful and practical real world examples plus a quiz to test your knowledge.

Focus questions[edit | edit source]

By the end of this book chapter you should gain the self-confidence needed to answer these four questions:

1. What is self-confidence?

2. Why is self-confidence so important?

3. Be able to name at least 2 example of where self-confidence is essential in the real world?

4. How do you develop self-confidence?

What is self-confidence[edit | edit source]

Self-confidence is a realistic belief or expectation individual needs use to achieve success; it is the relationship between an individual and their own environment, when they are satisfied with their social desires (Singh & Agnihotri, 2013). It is the belief a individual has of their own abilities to achieve a goal or task, self-confidence is critical in the effectiveness of achieving these goals and tasks (Chesser-Smyth & Long, 2012). However, if an individual has low or no self-confidence it is not directly linked to ability (Chesser-Smyth & Long, 2012). Self-confidence involves how an individual feels about themselves and how an individual feels about their own personal abilities, this can vary from situation to situation (Javeed, 2013). Self-confidence and self-esteem are closely linked, however totally different, as self-confidence is and self esteem is. It has been noted in an early studies by Fitch (1970)that self-confidence as being an essential part for motivation. Extroverted individuals are more likely to have higher self-confidence than introverts due to different psychological traits (Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). According to the Counselling Centre at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, self-confidence in not a generally way to characterize every aspect of an individuals life but a way to describe parts of it because any individual isn't 100% self-confident with every aspect of their life however they may have high self-confidence when it comes to academic tasks, however isn't at sporting tasks.

Why does self-confidence matter?[edit | edit source]

The importance of self confidence.

Self-confidence has been found in literature to be linked to enhancing well-being which is an necessity to maintaining a happy and healthy life (Akerlof and Dickens 1982, Brunnermeier and Parker 2005, Caplin and Leahy 2001, Mobius, et al., 2011; Koszegi 2006). In a study by Bénabou and Tirole(2002) it showed that by having self-confidence, an individuals motivation will be enhanced. Due to this, individuals that with high self-confidence have enhanced motivation which contributes to many aspects of life, such as, work, sport and academic goals (Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). This also a contributor when an individual is invested in an others performance which then gives them high self-esteem (Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). In the study by Bénabou and Tirole (2002) it discusses why self-confidence matters to motivation because it is an important tool to how an individual handles social interactions and situations. They found that individuals that had high self-confidence are able to react to social interactions in a manner that includes both "can do" optimism and "defensive" pessimism. In turn this is why individuals generally prefer to in a relationship with a person who has self-confidence, rather than individuals who are self-doubting (Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). Self-confidence is an important and essential part to enhance an individuals abilities and for them to become effective learners (Owens, 2001). The Counselling Centre at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign discussed how a lack of self-confidence is purely not linked to a lack of abilities, it can sometimes be the end result an individual is focusing on is out of reach, the goals that the individual is setting are non-realistic or other standards of themselves or of the views another individual has of them are negative influences. Self-confidence does matter and a higher level of self-confidence is achievable once individuals realise self-confidence does matter. Also, in the past literature and in a study by Mobius and colleagues shows that when it comes to self-confidence there is a significant gender difference, with significantly more men than women who have higher self-confidence, this is because women are believed to protective values more than men.

Examples of why self-confidence matters[edit | edit source]

Self-confidence is an essential part needed to excel in many aspects of life, with four real world and practical examples of where self-confidence is essential to achieving high level results.

Sport[edit | edit source]

Self-confidence in sport.

A big area self-confidence is explored in is sport. A study my Javeed (2013), explored the difference between both male and female athletes and male and female non-athletes self-confidence levels. He compared the two groups by conducting a self-confidence test created by Dr Smt Rashmi Jain (2008), the test was devised of 50 items and five alternatives. Javeed (2013) found that male and female athletes had significantly higher self-confidence than male and female non-athletes. A area that gains a lot of attention for research in this field is how an athlete's self-confidence effects their performance (Thelm, 2008)

Academic[edit | edit source]

Self-confidence can also affect a student’s academic performance, Self-confidence is very important when it comes to academic achievement and in a study by Vrtacnik and Gros (2012) they explored student’s academic performance on the effect of motivation and attitudes. It was noted by students if the environment they completed their academic work was a relaxing environment, they were more likely to have higher self-confidence. A student’s environment contributed to their levels of self-confidence when conducting academic based work (Vrtacnik & Gros, 2012). Kumar (2012) widely believes that once students gain a high level of self-confidence it progressively develops I conjunction with academic success and satisfaction as well as the ability to create positive relationship. He describes self-confidence what provides student’s with the motivation to learn and to be energetic about their own learning and abilities and that the classroom environment is an essential in building high self-confidence levels in students.

Heubner (2009) explores how to encourage girl to peruse the study of both maths and science. In a longitudinal study by Herbert and Stipek (2005) on the views of a children’s own abilities focusing mainly on maths classes, discovered that from an early age, girls would rate themselves lower than boys would, even if no academic differences actual exist. These findings are important because if a student feels self-confident in each academic discipline and the work required for it, they are more likely to achieve higher results and are also more likely to want to pursue a career in these disciplines (Simpkins & Davis-Kean, 2005). To be able to achieve this we need to create new ways to boost a student’s self-confidence, within the classroom by creating a relaxing atmosphere for the students to study and work in and also by having a mentoring program. This is necessary because if students have higher self-confidence levels they are more likely to gain significantly higher academic results.

Turner and colleagues’ (2002), investigated the relationship between academic learning and the environment of 1197 6th grade school student s undertaking a maths class. They found that student’s that lacked self-confidence in this particular subject failed to ask for help and ask questions. However, if the teacher gave honest praise to individual student accomplishments and efforts ad told each student detailed feedback, the student’s where more likely to ask for help and gain higher self-confidence in the subject (Turner et al., 2002).

Mental Health[edit | edit source]

Singh and Agnihotri (2013) conducted a study on the mental health of secondary school students and how this affects self-confidence. They used a Self-Confidence Inventory (ASCI) by Rekha Agnihotri (1987) to measure the self-confidence of these students(as cited in Singh & Agnihotri, 2013). They found that the majority of secondary school students had average self-confidence and average mental health levels. They also found that if a student has a healthy mental health they had high self-confidence. In this study there was no significant difference between genders. Similarly, in Simran (2008) study (as cited in Singh & Agnihotri, 2013) on 170 rural females to find if there is a correlation between mental health and self-confidence. He found that there was a strong positive correlation between their mental health and self-confidence. In another study, Somal (2008) explored the link between friendship, aggression and self-confidence (as cited in Singh & Agnihotri, 2013)of teenage males and females with the same consisting of a 100 males and a 100 females. This study found that friendship and self-confidence was positively correlated for girls and was reverse for the boys. These study shows that healthy mental health is required to maintain a high-self confidence level therefore, steps towards improving mental health are need to insure all individuals can develop a higher level of self-confidence.

Body image[edit | edit source]

Body image can have significant effect on an individual’s self-confidence (Price, 2010). A article written by Price (2010) explored how body image affected the self-confidence of older women. Concerns about an individual’s body weight and what they believe is healthy may impact how the individual views themselves, also if individual is or has suffered from illness, injury treatment and surrey can impact an individual’s view of their own body image and in turn lowering their self-confidence (Price, 2010). This article discuses how an individual uses their own views on their body is a building block for their own emotions, beliefs, goals and behaviour, for example an individual may attend a body pump class at their local gym because they think their body is fit enough to keep up with the activities, not necessarily to challenge their body.

How is self-confidence developed and how can you build it?[edit | edit source]

Feeling confident in yourself.

The Counselling Centre at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign describes how self-confidence is developed through many factors. They discussed how a child’s parents influence how a child feels about themselves, especially in the early years of their life. They explain this through how parents provide acceptance towards the child which creates a solid foundation for positive feelings about themselves, if a parent inspires their child to move towards being self-sufficient and still show affection when the child makes a mistake, the child will start to develop a healthy self-confidence. They explain the influence from parents can also be extremely detrimental to the child is one or both parents are overly critical, intense, overbearing, disapproving, discouraging, limiting independence, and judgmental, a child may come to the conclusion they are incapable and irresponsible. Another big influence on self-confidence in this article is the influence of an individuals friends and peer groups. They discuss this by stating that the influence of an individuals friends can easily effect how an individual develops self-confidence, especially for university students who are re-ex-aiming their sense of self. It has been found that is an individual has had a mentor or has looked to others for help are able to develop a higher self-confidence compared to individuals that didn't (Ojewunmi, 2011). Self-confidence improves an individual's motivation to peruse projects and goals despite any temptation or distractions that may become present and to test an individual's will power(Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). Self-confidence can be built by setting realistic goals, seeking advice and willing to expand on our own abilities(Bénabou & Tirole, 2002). The Counselling Centre at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has four strategies that can help influence higher levels of self-confidence, they are:

- Look to your strengths: Instead of only giving yourself credit when you have reached the end goal, reward yourself for genuine effor, by focusing on what you can do rather than on what can't. By doing this you are breaking the end goal into "bite size" pieces that are manageable and you are rewarding yourself for the effort you are putting in rather than focusing on the final goal.

-Take risks! When faced with something new take it as a chance to learn and grow instead of looking at it as something you will either win or lose. By doing this you are widening your list of things yo can do which can increase your self-confidence. If you look at every new opportunity as something to fail at or lose you are limiting your abilities and inhibiting the chance to gain self-confidence.

-Talk to yourself: Take a few minuets out of everyday to talk to yourself about the positives. If you catch yourself expecting un-realistic goals, remind yourself that no one is perfect and that you need to

-Self-evaluation: Learn how to calculate yourself and by doing this you will be able to switch of the opinions of other that could be detrimental to the development of self-confidence. In doing this you are refocusing the feels you have about yourself influenced by others, to a new out look on your own behavior and will hopefully also bring a stronger sense of self to an individual and to prevent others stealing your power.

Negative effects of self confidence[edit | edit source]

Having high self-confidence can have its down falls, because individuals want to maintain the positive feels associated with self confidence it may cause them to handicap themselves (Gadbois & Sturgeon, 2011). Self-handicapping is an individual sets themselves up with an external cause for failure of a task to preserve self-confidence, this includes externalising issues, making up excuses for possible failures or they have a fear of failure(Gadbois & Sturgeon, 2011).

Ouiz[edit | edit source]

1 Are introverts more likely to have higher self-confidence than extravorts?


2 Is self-condifience important in the performace of athletes?


3 Does self-confidence contribute to motivation?


4 Are all parental influences postive when a child is growing up to develop a high level of self-confidence?


Summary[edit | edit source]

Self-confidence is not necessarily a lack of ability but it is vital to help an individual to achieve goals and succeed in areas such as sports or academic tasks. Self-confidence is important as it enhances many other aspects of an individual’s life, such as their well-being, happiness and a healthy life. Self-confidence is a contributing factor to many real world activities, for example; sports, academic tasks, mental health and body image, that require self-confidence to be able to achieve them at a higher level. Self-confidence is developed through the influence of the people around us, such as parents and friends. It can be built by setting realistic goals, seeking advice and willing to expand on our own abilities.

See also[edit | edit source]

Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Self-confidence and sport

Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Self-esteem

Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Self-handicapping

References[edit | edit source]

Akerlof, George A. and William T. Dickens, “The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance,” American Economic Review, 1982, 72 (3), 307–319.

Bénabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2002). Self-confidence and personal motivation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(3), 871-915.

Brunnermeier, Markus K. and Jonathan A. Parker, “Optimal Expectations,” American Economic Review, September 2005, 95 (4), 1092–1118.

Caplin, Andrew and John Leahy, “Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2001, 116 (1), 55–79.

Chesser‐Smyth, P. A., & Long, T. (2013). Understanding the influences on self‐confidence among first‐year undergraduate nursing students in Ireland. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(1), 145-157.

Fitch, G. (1970). Eff ects of self-esteem, perceived performance, and choice on causal attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16 (2), 311-315.

Gadbois, S. A., & Sturgeon, R. D. (2011). Academic self-handicapping: Relationships with learning specific and general self-perceptions and academic performance over time. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(2), 207-222. doi: 10.1348/000709910X522186

Herbert, J., & Stipek, D. (2005). The emergenceof gender differences in children’sperceptions of their academiccompetence. Applied DevelopmentalPsychology, 26, 276–295.

Heubner, T. A. (2009). Encouraging Girls to Pursue Math and Science. Educational Leadership, 67(1), 90-91.

Horn, T. S. (Ed.). (2008). Advances in sport psychology. Human kinetics.

Koszegi, Botond, “Ego Utility, Overconfidence, and Task Choice,” Joural of the European Economic Association, 2006, 4 (4), 673–707.

Kumar, P. (2012). In The Classroom: Factors -- Motivating And De Motivating. Golden Research Thoughts, 2(4), 1-4.


Mobius, M. M., Niederle, M., Niehaus, P., & Rosenblat, T. S. (2011). Managing self-confidence: Theory and experimental evidence (No. w17014). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Ojewunmi, K. (2011). DOES MENTORING MATTER? For The Protégé: Getting Your Feet Wet Without Worrying About Drowning. IFE Psychologia, 129-142.

Owens, T. J. (2001). Extending self-esteem theory and research. Cambridge: University Press.

Price, B. (2010). The older woman's body image. Nursing older people, 22(1), 31.

Simpkins, S., & Davis-Kean, P. (2005). Theintersection between self-concept andvalues: Links between beliefs and choicesin high school. New Directions for Childand Adolescent Development, 110, 31–47.


Somal, Renu (2008). “Relationship between Friendship, Aggression and Self-Esteem”, Praachi Journal of Psycho-Cultural Dimensions, vol.24 (1).

Turner, J., Midgley, C., Meyer, D., Gheen,M., Anderman, E., Kang, Y., & Patrick, H. (2002). The classroom environment andstudents’ reports of avoidance strategies inmathematics: A multimethod study.Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(1),88–106.

University of Illinois (2007). Counselling Centre. Self -confidence [Online]. Available:

Vrtacnik, M., & Gros, N. (2012). The impact of a hands-on approach to learning visible spectrometry upon students' performance, motivation, and attitudes.Acta chimica Slovenica, 60(1), 209-220.