Believing in yourself may be good for the soul, but it can also be good for the bank account, according to a new University of Florida study that finds self-confidence can translate into earning hundreds of thousands of dollars more over a lifetime.
People with high opinions of themselves as teenagers and young adults drew bigger salaries in middle age than their less confident counterparts, and the gap was widest for those from privileged backgrounds, said Timothy Judge, a UF management professor who did the study with graduate student Charlice Hurst.
It turns out that there are certainly significant advantages for children growing up with parents who are well-educated and work in professional occupations, but these advantages are especially profound when children are self-confident. "Positive self-concept seems to act like an accelerant – the fuel to the fire – that leads certain people in our society to do better," say the authors of this study.
The study, which controlled for race and gender, evaluated mid-life income by examining parents’ education and occupational prestige, as well as participants’ educational levels, grade point averages, SAT scores and child poverty levels. For every category, the study found that having high self-esteem made a difference.
Self-confidence was measured by answers to such questions as “What happens to me is of my own doing,” “I feel I have a number of good qualities” and “When I make plans, I am almost certain to make them work.” Judge believes the effects of self-esteem and socio-economic background on income are particularly timely with today’s growing income disparity between the “haves” and “have nots.”
But, does being one of those "haves" guarantee in itself the future success of the child? The study shows that early advantages by themselves are not enough to ensure the best shot at material well-being later in life, Judge said. “In light of popular beliefs that kids from middle- and upper-class families have it made, it is surprising to see what little positive impact socioeconomic status has in the absence of self-esteem,” he said.
Motivation may be one reason for self-esteem’s importance, Judge said. “Research has shown that positive people who believe in themselves have more ambitious goals, so that even when they encounter adversity, they’re not as likely to internalize it,” he said.
I posted an excellent site on self-esteem for children, linked to the headline of today's subject.