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What is self-confidence?

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-confidence as “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement”. Simply put, self-confidence is
a form of self-trust and is influenced by three factors: Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
self-efficacy, self-esteem, and self-compassion. The relative presence of these three factors determines how much an individual trusts themselves and subsequently impacts their willingness to take risks, take action, and pursue goals.

Behavioural Manifestations of Confidence

How self-confident you are, is often reflected in your behaviours, where low self-confidence is related to self-destructive, negative, and devaluing behaviours, and healthy self-confidence helps you acknowledge your effort, learn from mistakes, and remain optimistic. Consider
the following table, Adapted from: Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). Building Self-Confidence. MindTools.
which provides examples of behaviours associated with high and low self-confidence in various situations:

Scenario
Confident Behaviour
Behaviour Associated with Low Self-Confidence
Peer-Pressure
Doing what you believe is right, even if others do not agree with you, mock you, or criticize you for it.
Governing behaviour based on what other people think, and prioritizing others satisfaction over your own.
Risk Taking
Being willing to take risks and to go the extra mile to achieve your dreams.
Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure and avoiding risk.
Mistakes
Taking responsibility for your actions, owning mistakes, and learning from them.
Hiding and denying mistakes, using excuses to shift blame, and trying to fix problems before anyone notices.
Achievements
Being humble and waiting for other people to congratulate you on their own terms.
Boasting about accomplishments and parading achievements as often as possible to as many people as possible.
Compliments
Accepting compliments and recognizing your hard work. (Ex. “Thank you, I really worked hard on that project and it means a lot to me that you noticed.”)
Dismissing compliments offhandedly. (Ex. “Don’t be a fool. That project was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”)

What is self-efficacy, self-esteem, and self-compassion?

Self-efficacy: Behaviours

Self-efficacy is the
behavioural component of self-confidence. Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
Self-Efficacy Theory, developed by
Albert Bandura in 1977, Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191–215.
suggests that behaviour is determined by two types of expectations: Outcome and Efficacy expectations.

  1. Outcome expectations: Personal beliefs about whether or not an action has the potential to result in a particular outcome (ex. Will studying for this test result in a higher grade?).
  2. Efficacy expectations: Beliefs in one’s own ability to execute the behaviour required to produce the outcome (ex. Can I study more for this test?).
Self-efficacy is highest when you believe that an action has the potential to initiate change and that you have the capacity to take that action. In general, your belief in the ability to take action (i.e. efficacy expectations) stems from
four main sources of information: Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191–215.


  1. Mastery: Previous experiences and success with taking on new challenges, and learning new skills.
  2. Vicarious: Having a positive role model to learn from and demonstrate self-efficacy.  
  3. Verbal persuasion: Receiving support and encouragement from family, friends, mentors, and acquaintances, through kind words and motivating phrases.
  4. Emotional and physiological arousal: Feelings of overall health and wellbeing directly influence your sense of competence (ex. feeling relaxed, calm, and in control rather than anxious, hopeless or overwhelmed).

Self-efficacy is the behavioural component of self-confidence because it determines your willingness to initiate change, the amount of effort you invest into making that change, and how long you will sustain these efforts in the face of adversity.

Self-esteem: Feelings

Self-esteem is the
affective component of self-confidence. Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
Self-esteem describes a person’s
overall sense of self-worth Cherry, K. (2019, September 30). Signs of Healthy and Low Self-Esteem. Verywellmind.
or personal value and involves feelings about a variety of factors including appearance, behaviours, relationships, and accomplishments. In the late 1990s,
an important distinction was made Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1995). Human autonomy. In Efficacy, agency, and self-esteem (pp. 31-49). Springer, Boston, MA.
between contingent and true self-esteem. Contingent self-esteem involves feelings of self-worth that are dependent on social comparison and matching some standard of living to inter- or intrapersonal expectations. For example, a child’s self-esteem is contingent if they only think of themselves as a good student when they receive the highest grade in the class. In contrast, true self-esteem is more stable and based on a solid sense of self. Someone with true self-esteem believes in their self-worth regardless of external factors that determine relative achievement or success. True self-esteem is what contributes to the affective component of internal self-confidence.

Self-compassion: Thoughts

Self-compassion is the
cognitive component of self-confidence, Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
which influences the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs you direct towards yourself. Self-compassion
establishes self-confidence by Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
enhancing resilience and refuting self-judgement through increased acceptance and productive applications of flaws.
Dr. Kristen Neff, Neff, K. (2003a). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.
Neff, K. (2003b). Self-Compassion: An Alternative Conceptualization of a Healthy Attitude Toward Oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.
a leading researcher in the field of self-compassion, identifies three crucial components of self-compassion:

  1. Self-kindness (versus Self-judgement): Being warm and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring your pain or flagellating yourself with self-criticism.
  2. Common humanity (versus Isolation): Recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
  3. Mindfulness (versus Over-identification): Taking a balanced approach to your negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This stems from a willingness to observe your negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity and put your situation into a larger perspective.

Why is it important to have self-confidence?

Self-confidence is a vital component of almost every aspect of life. In education alone, self-confidence is related to
academic achievement and success, Al-Hebaish, S. (2012). The Correlation between General Self- Confidence and Academic Achievement in the Oral Presentation Course. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(1), 60–65.
Karimi, A., & Saadatmand, Z. (2014). The Relationship Between Self-Confidence With Achievement Based On Academic Motivation. Kuwait Chapter of the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 4(1), 210–215.
Maclellan, E. (2014). How might teachers enable learner self-confidence? A review study. Educational Review, 66(1), 59–74.
enhanced
problem-solving abilities, Maclellan, E. (2014). How might teachers enable learner self-confidence? A review study. Educational Review, 66(1), 59–74.
increased
motivation, Karimi, A., & Saadatmand, Z. (2014). The Relationship Between Self-Confidence With Achievement Based On Academic Motivation. Kuwait Chapter of the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 4(1), 210–215.
learning and academic development, goal setting and goal achievement, as well as school satisfaction. Apart from education,
self-confidence is related Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].
to career and workplace success, leadership ability, individual and team performance, motivation and ambition, resilience, as well as happiness and well-being.

Where can I learn more?

TED Talk – The Skill of Self-Confidence by Dr. Ivan Joseph

Maryville University – Resources to Build Self-Confidence In the Classroom and at Home

Verywell mind – Self Efficacy and Why Believing in Yourself Matters

Brookes Publishing Blog – 7 Ways to Foster Self-Esteem and Resilience in All Learners

Dr. Kristen Neff – Self-Compassion

Greater Good Science Center – The Three Components of Self-compassion

What will students learn?

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…

  • Recognize self-confidence as a skill that can be developed through practice and reframing self-talk
  • Use positive self-affirmations to build self-confidence
  • Distinguish between behaviours associated with high and low self-confidence in everyday life
  • Articulate the relationship between body language and confidence and apply this knowledge to change behaviour
References
Beecuz

Al-Hebaish, S. (2012). The Correlation between General Self- Confidence and Academic Achievement in the Oral Presentation Course. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(1), 60–65.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191–215.

Cherry, K. (2019, September 30). Signs of Healthy and Low Self-Esteem. Verywellmind.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1995). Human autonomy. In Efficacy, agency, and self-esteem (pp. 31-49).

Springer, Boston, MA.

Guerin, E., Arcand, I., & Durand-Bush, N. (2010). A view from the inside: an in-depth look at a female university student’s experience with a feel-based intervention to enhance self-confidence and self-talk. (Report). The Qualitative Report, 15(5), 1058–1079.

Karimi, A., & Saadatmand, Z. (2014). The Relationship Between Self-Confidence With Achievement Based On Academic Motivation. Kuwait Chapter of the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 4(1), 210–215.

Maclellan, E. (2014). How might teachers enable learner self-confidence? A review study. Educational Review, 66(1), 59–74.

Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). Building Self-Confidence. MindTools.

Neff, K. (2003a). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.

Neff, K. (2003b). Self-Compassion: An Alternative Conceptualization of a Healthy Attitude Toward Oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.

Perkins, K. (2018). The Integrated Model of Self-confidence: Defining and Operationalizing Self-confidence in Organizational Settings [ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].

Sadler, I. (2013). The role of self-confidence in learning to teach in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 50(2), 157–166.

Zuckerman, D. (1985). Confidence and aspirations: Self‐esteem and self‐concepts as predictors of students’ life goals. Journal of Personality, 53(4), 543–560.

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