An abstract term can be defined in a broad or narrow manner. Applying various techniques to the concept can shed the light on its various aspects and relevance in different spheres of life. Adding supplementary meaning and flavor to the concept improves the process of comprehension and analyses of the common terms and concepts. Vanity is an abstract concept depicting personal attitude of people. It can be used to further expand the understanding of basic concepts, for instance, education.Generally speaking, vanity is a concept that identifies excessive and disproportionate pride in the self-estimation process of the appearance and achievements. Extreme over evaluation of personal qualities and possibilities is negatively perceived in the modern society. Moderate self confidence and self-belief motivate individuals to attain more accomplishments in their life, while excessive self-esteem usually brings various negative consequences and complications.
The concept of vanity is widely discussed and depicted in the literature all over the world. A lot of novels, poems and stories are devoted to the understanding the background, reasons and consequences of vanity, including works of Samuel Johnson, William Thackeray, Jerome K. Jerome, Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray and others. They show how socially destructive vanity can be.
However, at the same time the concept of vanity can be extended even further and analyzed from other perspectives. In particular, personal vanity can be considered from the point of view of economics. More precisely, vanity, by being an extended version of the self-confidence and self-reliance, at the same time, it can serve as a motivator and an incentive to personal development and substantial economic accomplishments. Both, at the individual and social levels, vanity can become a substantial factor of economic development.
A lot of economic research has been done to estimate the impact of personal vanity on the economic growth and development (Mokyr, 2005). It has been found that excessive pride and confidence are associated with larger accomplishments in career development, education, and social status (Durvasula & Lysonski, 2008). What is more interesting, excessive pride and self-esteem can be also beneficial for the society at large. In particular, a well know principle of invisible hand developed by Adam Smith identifies how personal accomplishments and self interest at the same time improve general social welfare in the community (Rosenberg, 1968).
Considering economic aspect of vanity, it can be also used in the explaining and defining education. Normally, education can be described as a process of obtaining skills and knowledge about a particular matter in the course of learning. However, applying the economic side of vanity concept to the generally accepted idea of the education can shed a light on a different perspective of the education. In particular, people that overestimate their possibilities and opportunities, compared to the average population, are capable of attaining and succeeding in a considerably larger scope of educational activities. This can be explained by the fact that those people, who are confident in their possibility of success, are usually seizing every opportunity to even further enhance their knowledge and skills.
To sum up, it should be mentioned that any abstract concept or term can be identified in the broad and narrow manner. Extension of the concept’s definition gives an opportunity to assess its relationships with every aspect of social, economic, cultural life of people. Vanity describes excessive self evaluation and self confidence about one’s appearance or accomplishments. Its reasons and consequences are widely discussed in the world fiction literature. However, at the same time, it is widely studied in the economic literature to assess its impact on the economic growth. It is found that vanity can motivate people to accomplish more in their life and, hence, improve the social well being of society at large. In particular, people in vain tend to succeed more in education and receive higher grades along with attaining more skills and knowledge compared to their modest counterparts.