Although the importance of operational definitions is obvious while researching new areas of work, taking time to define terms, especially key ones, is also important for mature fields. The study of self-esteem, for instance, is one of the oldest themes in psychology and it is characterized by work based on at least three different definitions of selfesteem. Each one of them has given rise to a school of thought with its own body of supportive research and findings. Such situations often generate confusion in a field, especially when it comes to establishing consensus or integrating material. Thus, this article first presents the two-factor approach to self-esteem in order to demonstrate how defining it as a relationship between competence and worthiness helps to resolve issues that other leading definitions do not, especially the common practice of defining self-esteem simply as a feeling of “worth.” Second, an attempt is made to show how a two-factor approach also better integrates work on the cognitive and affective of dimensions of self-esteem.
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