Self-esteem derives from a person’s sense of their own worthiness. It comprises many aspects, but generally involves “…some comparison by the individual between how they would like to be and how they think they actually measure up” (Gilligan, 2008, pp40-42). According to Rutter (1990), secure and harmonious love relationships and success in accomplishing tasks identified by individuals as central to their interests are the two most significant predictors of self-esteem.

Self-esteem has been found to increase an individual’s likelihood of assimilating threatening external events without experiencing excessive negative arousal and disorganisation (Gilligan, 2008). There is evidence that for disadvantaged young people, self-esteem is a salient predictor of adjustment. Gerard and Buehler (2004) found that “…positive self-regard acts as a safeguard against psychological discomfort resulting from disparaging life circumstances” (p1845). "Further, high self-esteem might allow the individual to separate negative aspects of his or her life from any personal responsibility” (Gerard & Buehler, 2004).