The rationale for this presentation is a theoretical model indicating that people who perceive themselves to be more effective, more confident, and more able accomplish more than people with less positive self-perceptions. Support for this prediction is strongest in academic self-concept research where a substantial body of research in support of the reciprocal effects model now exists. On this basis, Marsh and Craven (1997) claim that academic self-concept and achievement are mutually reinforcing constructs, each leading to gains in the other. In contrast, Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger and Vohs (2003) claim that self-esteem has no benefits beyond seductive pleasure and may even be detrimental to subsequent performance in high profile publications that have received extensive international attention. Here we review the theoretical and empirical bases for each set of claims, contrasting the older unidimensional perspectives that focus on global self-esteem and more recent, multidimensional perspectives that focus on specific components of self-concept. Juxtaposing these contrasting sets of results integrating the unidimensional and multidimensional perspectives into a common theoretical framework offers resolution to this apparent conflict, and has important implications for educational research, policy and practice.