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Reload this Page Is It Really Self-Esteem or Contingent Upon External Stimuli?
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Old 02-25-11   #1
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Is It Really Self-Esteem or Contingent Upon External Stimuli?

When an individual is feeling depressed, lacking confidence, believing that they are unattractive, and thinking that they are unable to perform a certain task, many psychologists are quick to assume that it is the person’s self-esteem. However, the real question you have to ask yourself is, is it really self-esteem? I have come to learn that in many cases, self-esteem is the dependent variable (outcome variable) and something else is the independent variable. Something else is causing this current mode of self-esteem. Many theorists from the behavioral sciences tend to desire and even assume that motivation for mastery is intrinsic and independent from others and/or other external variables/stimuli. As true as this may be, I believe that the notion that the internal drive for all manner of problem solving being independent of others may not be that accurate. Personally, I have found how powerful social conformity can be and that such methodology of problem solving becomes dependent upon others in the current setting of activity. For example, even without the socialization of the child, the child longs to be others, longs to fit in, and will learn to conform to the others surrounding him/her in that moment of time. The child does not even have to have learned a language and the body language communication is in automatic effect. Analogously, this is sort of like the child is able to communicate telepathically with other children close by.

As adults, as much as we pride ourselves in our accomplishments, loneliness or actions done independently of the typical norm may make us feel awkward, almost as if we are betraying our closest friends in enacting an action not really approved by others. The complicated matter in what I have just said is the illusion and unwillingness (not intentionally) of we humans to come to that kind of admission for it may be perceived as being too negative, hurts our self image and is something like a mother would say to the law enforcement authorities, "my son would never do that (commit such a terrible crime)." For many years in history, our actions have usually been dependent upon that which is approval; very rarely did we have individuals whose actions of objectives and intrinsic motivation was independent of others. Many great leaders of ancient history for example, could not have had any motivation fulfilled without the support of a sector of people. So while I disagree with experts regarding that drives tend to be internal and how we see ourselves tend to circle around internal stimuli, I do agree that we need more cooperative settings in which intrinsic predispositions can fully flourish.

Although creating cooperative settings in which such potential intrinsic predisposition can fully flourish may be the aim, sadly, this may not be entirely possible for extrinsic factors/variables (like money, fame, and propaganda) may provide a more powerful extrinsic motivation than the intrinsic motivation provided by say an enjoyable workplace. I believe that "money" is so powerful that it is the essential life basis of everything we do. Why do young people want to sing and win American Idol? Is it because they have passion and desire to sing? Some yes but most go there in hopes that they can become famous and make a lot of money even though they may deny that on camera. Why do some parents want their children to become doctors and lawyers? Is it because they want their kids to become helpers of the ill or to excel in argumentation? I do not think so. I think it is so that they could make a lot money and live a higher standard of living. Why do even good doctors help false claims of the pharmacuetical industries? Probably because they get paid stock options in the millions. "Money" is an extrinsic factor, is it not? Hence, "money" falls under the category of extrinsic motivation. Even a five year old child will do certain things if they can get money from their parents. The motivation to do this is contingent upon the value placed on “money.” So it may be true that children are not born (by nature) to like money, but they have been conditioned to like money and to take care of money. “Conditioned” is in the past tense translating into the “outcome variable” as being the “result.” “Money” is the independent variable (predictor variable) that is teaching the child that it is of value.

On the subject of attractiveness, although many experts tend to say that “it is not the way you look but rather it is the way you feel,” what if it really is truly “the way you look and not the way you feel?” If these experts understand that “correlation does not equal causation” they should keep an open mind as to the many variables that may influence other variables or the many variables that can be influenced by. In many research studies, why do both men and women tend to think that a particular individual is attractive? The studies indicate that those people seen as attractive had symmetrical faces. Now many experts in the branch of counseling and psychotherapy are saying that it is “self-esteem” and not “good looks” or “attractiveness” as the predictor (independent) variable. But within the context of “attractiveness” or “good looks,” “self-esteem” is the outcome variable of “good looks” and if correlation does not equal causation in maintaining an open mindset viewpoint, it could be that “people who look good and are attractive have high self-esteem” or that “people who do not look good or are not attractive have low self-esteem” keeping in mind that “good looks” or “attractiveness” are the predictor variable(s) and “self-esteem” is the dependent variable contrary to the widely held belief from mental health professionals stating that “self-esteem” is the independent (predictor) variable. A person cannot be a model not necessarily because they have low self-esteem; it is because they do not fit the desired description of good looks or attractiveness. To take the entire attractiveness construct (macro analysis) even further, let’s take a look at a specific aspect of attractiveness (micro analysis) such as possessing “bad skin.” In reality, “bad skin” is the predicting variable of the outcome variable “self-esteem.” Women would come into dermatological commercial advertisement to testify and even cry like for example, Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford and Proactiv Solution. Look at how much more confident these women become after they put on these products.

On a more broad scale, my central point is that people may not understand why certain individuals behave the way they do (even detectives may not understand why a serial killer decided to kill 90 women) because of the endless answers that may be apparent to some and not to others. Do choices and freewill really exist? Or are they an automatic response(s) (that occurs at the subconscious and unconscious levels) to automatic stimuli?

In regard to social conformity and propaganda, again, we hear the same experts say that “it is not the way other people see you; it is how you see yourself.” But isn’t it possible that “it is the way other people see you and it has nothing to do with how you see yourself?” An individual can be a very positive person and can have a positive outlook on life but come to realize that other people do judge them based on their looks (whether good or not), intelligence (whether high or low), and how much money they make (whether a lot or not). The judgment on looks and socioeconomic status is the predictor variable and how you see yourself is the outcome variable. I think that many people tend to underestimate how powerful propaganda can be because it hits us at our subconscious and unconscious (may explain why even the experts themselves do not believe in external conditions but rather the internal person’s view of themselves because of low keen to the awareness of external conditions). It is a driving force that determines how we conduct ourselves in society. Both social conformity and propaganda are external stimuli that shape who we are and how we behave. In terms of performing certain tasks, people who are propagandized to believe that a certain group of people cannot perform well end up creating the reality of underperformance. This has nothing to do with a person’s self-esteem but rather the external stimuli of propaganda indoctrination.

It is common knowledge that we have options and choices to choose and pick from and that the choices we make have consequences (whether it be positive or negative). Have people proposed potential causes that drove an individual to make a certain choice in the first place? Are the choices that people make really choices in its denotative definition found in the dictionary? Have we considered the possibility that the choices we make derive from current in the moment situations factoring in our emotional status? Many experts talk about how we as individuals can take control of our own destinies and although this may be true, the classical almost Freudian saying of how humans are really governed by their passions seems to ring more true. We see this classical theme found in many of the great fictional literary works and even non-fictional events in the real world like murder. I believe that the existence of consequences and/or natural consequences themselves facilitate the illusion of choice and freewill further by society to blame the individual for choices he/she chooses. The way humans behave and see themselves is not only based on the internal individual itself; it is also contingent upon the environmental surroundings, extenuating circumstances, the external stimuli, and the way other people see and treat you. Perhaps figuratively speaking, the Roman God with Two Faces (Janus) is not the depiction of fictional mythology but rather reality. I have personally come up with a saying, in most issues, the reverse is just as true as the non-reverse. Yes we have choices but we don’t. Yes, we have freewill but we don’t. Yes, it is about your self-esteem but it isn’t.
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