Study of self confidence factors

23 Mar 2015

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Self confidence is a sought-after personality trait (Anderson, 1968), whether in social interactions or during a job interview. It creates good impressions of individuals while working with others, or pleases the employers as they would want confident and competent staff. As Shrauger and Schohn (1995) define, self confidence gives individuals a gauge of their capability and proficiency, as well as their viewed potential to handle all kinds of problems. However too much or too little of it may be a form of hindrance instead. Over confidence may lead to disappointment when the outcome is not what is expected, or might even create a bad impression, hindering future interactions with people. Lack of self confidence, on the other hand, could lead to low morale, eventually giving up on themselves due to lack of perceived ability, or it might even lead to depression in the extreme case. Then again, lack of self confidence could also attribute to modesty and humility, if the actual competence of the individual is relatively higher than what is believed. According to Bryan, Ellis and Webster (2004), their view of self confidence relates to self-concept and self-efficacy, in order of definition, is a general view of oneself and an individual's view of their potential to make use of the materials required to execute an obligation. Definitions from both authors collaborate well, as they both agree that self confidence refers to individuals' view of their own capabilities in handling different problems and situations.

Self esteem and self worth are terms that are often mixed up with self confidence. According to Shrauger and Schohn (1995), self worth and self confidence are actually distinctive, as the former refers to worthiness, goodness, or self acceptance, which is not quite related to the appraisal of an individual's capabilities and skills. Self esteem is the word that confounds the other two, as it encompasses both meanings. Nonetheless, it affects self confidence because they are positively correlated, where high self esteem leads to high self confidence. This also links to the affective component, one of the three main components of self confidence, where more positive feelings and less anxiety lead to higher self confidence, whereas negative feelings and more anxiety will lower self confidence. Through Shrauger and Schohn's (1995) studies, it was also found that when comparing with the five-factor model, more confident people are more extroverted, less neurotic, and slightly more conscientious. However there was no association with agreeableness, hence tremendously confident people tend to be more outgoing and emotionally stable, resulting in more positive feelings.

Most emphasis was placed on the cognitive component of self confidence by Shrauger and Schohn (1995), as they believed it to be an important part of self confidence. It refers to the self-evaluation of performance, meeting of own expectations and continuous excellence compared to others. Therefore this associates with specific confidence greatly, as it relates to actual performance more than is general confidence, as it tends to correlate with overrating of performance. Nevertheless, both variables are evaluated as one can affect the other, as general confidence may determine an individual's approach to challenging situations when faced with uncertainty. They also found that competence is more often linked with academic excellence than in other areas for their study on college students. Thus, even though confidence may be considerably established by actual competence, it still appeared to be theoretically and practically different from it.

The behavioural component of self confidence, the last of the three, refers to the eagerness in participating in activities. The probability of engaging in an activity is decided by how accomplished individuals expect to be at it (Bandura, Adam, Beyer, 1977; Bandura, Reese, & Adams, 1982). A study was conducted by Shrauger and Schohn (1995) to show that people do tend to credit more priority onto tasks that they deem they are more competent in (Campbell, 1986; Harackiewicz, Sansone, & Manderlink, 1985; Lewicki, 1983). Even though other factors could have affected the choice of activity that individuals wanted to take part in (Trope, 1980; Trope & Brickman, 1975), it will be crucial to find out the circumstances where perceived confidence is the main factor in choosing activities.

Bryan, Ellis and Webster (2004) also conducted a study on self confidence in male and female financial analysts, and found that males tend to have a higher self confidence than females, even though females may outperform males academically. This difference in self confidence levels could be due to the fact that males tend to be better able in mathematical, problem solving and science areas than females, which relates to the work of a financial analyst (Campbell & Hackett, 1986; Hornig, 1987; Johnson, 1989; Hyde, Fennema, Ryan, Frost, & Hoop, 1990; Webster & Ellis, 1996). They also revealed that other studies have confirmed that the gender difference in self-confidence appeared to have carried on through the course of learning and also into work, as females frequently keep away from occupation that are quantitative based, according to Clance & O'Toole (1988). In Shrauger and Schohn's (1995) study, they also showed that the determinants of self confidence in males and females differ in areas like academic, appearance, athletics as well as general confidence level, where males tend to be more capable. Whereas females felt that romantic relationships were an important factor in determining self confidence.

Prospects of future was another variable that Shrauger and Schohn (1995) considered as people with higher self confidence tend to portray their futures more favourably than those who are less confident. Since self confidence may not be limited to appraisals of past and present behaviour, it can lead to beliefs that present height of ability will remain as it is and affect following outcomes. These beliefs would correlate with self confidence in individuals.

Various factors may also affect self confidence in individuals in four different ways, objective capabilities, selective appraisal, self-presentational influences and temporal variations (Shrauger & Schohn, 1995). For objective capabilities, a massive amount of evidence proposes that normally there is an important positive correlation between an individual's level of confidence and actual performance, though with an altering extent of connection (Mabe & West, 1982). Nonetheless it may be more significant for self confidence rather than for self worth as the standards for self worth are not specifically defined and yet to be recognised. Selective appraisal refers to choosing to remember and infer information according one's likes, or by changing the comparative benchmark, this misrepresents the unprejudiced quality of their aptitude (Greenwald, 1980; Taylor & Brown, 1988). These are simplified ways where people may tend to misjudge their overall capability, or it could also be precise to a particular field of performance. Self-presentational influences result from individuals' need to portray a specific impression of themselves to others. Since self confidence is a well sought-after trait (Anderson, 1968), individuals might tend to appear more confident than they are in reality. Temporal variations refer to the common disapproval to gauging self appraisals is that they differ over time (Markus & Nurius, 1986). On the other hand, individuals function to sustain balance in self-perceptions, crediting assessed information that tallies with their level of self confidence on the whole as well as taking action to ensure that prior self-perceptions are retained.

In conclusion, many different factors attribute to different confidence levels in individuals. One possible factor could be self-esteem, due to the positive correlation between self-esteem and self confidence. Through different self perceptions, one's self confidence may also be affected. Comparing with others, one's expectations on self performance, positive feelings about oneself, as well as the probability of participation in particular activities are also factors that affect levels of self confidence. The positivity in an individual's perception of the future, as well as gender differences, also contributes to differing levels of confidence. Males generally tend to have a higher general confidence than females. Objective capabilities, selective appraisal, self-presentational influences and temporal variations could also affect self confidence in individuals, as well as relations between self confidence and actual performance, selectively inferring information and comparing with different benchmarks, appearing to be more confident than one actually is and changes over time in gauging self-perceptions. These are all possible factors that attribute to self confidence, and other than being recognised as a desirable personality trait, it is also something that can be built up with experience. There are many people who lack self confidence and need help to build it, as they face problems interacting with others, coping with their social life, their will to take action or even dealing with difficulties faced in their academic work. Building up confidence can also explore potentials that individuals have never been able to develop due to their lack of confidence. Hopefully further studies will focus on what builds self confidence, or means of coping with lower levels of self confidence and how it can be applied onto this group of people who needs it.

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