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Title:Expectancy, Reinforcement-Value, and Demographics as Predictors of Situation-Specific and General Self-Esteem
Author(s):Savage, Vernon Thomas
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:In the literature, many behavior-influencing properties are attributed to the self-esteem. A number of authors have freely assumed that factors with which socially conscious citizens and professionals are concerned influence the self-esteem. Professional persons in psychology, psychiatry, education and sociology are willing to make sweeping assertions along these lines without hinting that such statements require the backing of research evidence. It has recently become widely fashionable and acceptable to write about hypothetical construct without referring the assertions to any particular theory.
Administering four self-report inventories to, and gathering demographic and academic achievement data on, 193 black and white, fifth and sixth grade children, the heuristic value of conceptualizing self-esteem in the context of Rotter's (1954) SLT was investigated. Three questions served as a focus: (1) To what extent would the psychological variables account for variance in situation-specific and "general" self-esteem? (2) To what extent would the demographic variables of interest account for the variance in the criterion variables? And (3) Would there be a significant difference in the amount of variance accounted for by the psychological versus demographic variables?
The psychological variables (i.e., expectancy and reinforcement-value) were found to account for a very small percentage of the variance in the criterion variables. The sociodemographic and academic (especially the academic) variables were found to account for the greatest proportion of variance in both situation-specific and "general" self-esteem.
Rotter set forth his theory with the expressed hope that it would prove of value in attempts to answer questions about and gain insights into complex behavior. If the psychological variables had been shown to account for significant amounts of variance in self-esteem, SLT would have been supported as a theoretical foundation upon which strategies intended to modify self-esteem could be heuristically developed.
While the major thesis of the study was not validated, the data appears to provide some clarity to the question of the influence race and SES have on self-esteem. The data supports the conclusion that: More consistent results will be recognized if the relationships between sociodemographic variables and delimited self-esteems are investigated. This conclusion is in line with the theoretical assertions of both Hare (1975) and Wylie (1974). Conceptualizing only a "general" or global self-esteem appears not to lead to the degree of utility that would result from conceptualizing situation-specific self-esteem as well. The sociodemographic variables were found to be both significant and poor predictors of the different criterion variables. The complexity of the relationships between demographic variables and self-esteem would have gone unnoticed if situation-specific as well as "general" self-esteem had not been investigated.
Based on the results, four general conclusions seem justified: (1) Situation-specific and "general" self-esteem are not heuristically conceptualized in terms of Rotter's SLT; (2) SES appears to have a greater influence on self-esteem than does race; (3) Academic achievement, among fifth and sixth graders, is a significant predictor of self-esteem; and (4) Wylie (1974) and Hare's (1975) assertions concerning the value of investigating delimited self-esteems appear sound.
Issue Date:1981
Description:84 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203578
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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