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Attempting to Improve the Academic Performance of Struggling College Students by Bolstering Their Self–esteem: An Intervention that Backfired

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Theory and prior research suggest that (a) a positive sense of self–worth and (b) per-ceived control over one's outcomes facilitate constructive responses to negative outcomes. We therefore predicted that encouraging students to maintain their sense of self–worth and/or construe their academic outcomes as controllable would promote achievement. In a field experiment, low–performing students in a psychology class were randomly assigned to receive, each week, review questions, review questions plus self–esteem bolstering, or review questions plus exhortations to assume responsibility and control. Contrary to predictions, the D and F students got worse as a result of self–esteem bolstering and students in the other conditions did not change. These findings raise ethical and practical questions about the wide-spread practice of bolstering self–esteem in the hope of improving academic performance.
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BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEMFORSYTH ET AL.
ATTEMPTING TO IMPROVE THE ACADEMIC
PERFORMANCE OF STRUGGLING
COLLEGE STUDENTS BY BOLSTERING
THEIR SELF–ESTEEM:
AN INTERVENTION THAT BACKFIRED
DONELSON R. FORSYTH
University of Richmond
NATALIE K. LAWRENCE
James Madison University
JENI L. BURNETTE
University of Richmond
ROY F. BAUMEISTER
Florida State University
Theory and prior research suggest that (a) a positive sense of self–worth and (b) per-
ceived control over one’s outcomes facilitate constructive responses to negative
outcomes. We therefore predicted that encouraging students to maintain their
sense of self–worth and/or construe their academic outcomes as controllable
would promote achievement. In a field experiment, low–performing students in a
psychology class were randomly assigned to receive, each week, review questions,
review questions plus self–esteem bolstering, or review questions plus exhortations
to assume responsibility and control. Contrary to predictions, the D and F students
got worse as a result of self–esteem bolstering and students in the other conditions
did not change. These findings raise ethical and practical questions about the wide-
spread practice of bolstering self–esteem in the hope of improving academic
performance.
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 4, 2007, pp. 447–459
447
Portions of his manuscript were reported at the Annual Meetings of the American Psy-
chological Association.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Donelson R. Forsyth,
Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA 23173.
E–mail: dforsyth@richmond.edu.
People may claim they are inspired by the Delphic command to “know
thyself,” but the self they tend to seek is one that is uniquely superior to
others and in control of important outcomes (Dunning, Heath, & Suls,
2004). Of the self’s many motives, maintaining adequately high self–es-
teem and achieving a sense of control over the environment are among
the most commonly observed in Western civilization (e.g., Baumeister,
1998; Leary, 2004). Both these needs have captured the imagination of re-
searchers as important keys to psychological functioning. Students’ suc-
cess in school, in particular, is widely thought to suffer if either
self–esteem or a sense of control is lost.
The present research was a field experiment that sought to improve
the performance of below–average students in a psychology course by
bolstering either their self–esteem or their sense of control. It was guided
by the sincerely optimistic belief that these interventions would succeed
and could then form the model for both further research and practical in-
terventions. There would be immense social value if one could establish
social interventions that improved learning and test–taking. Folk wis-
dom and some findings indicate that school performance is mainly a
function of intelligence and studying (Sternberg, 1998), but insofar as in-
telligence is hard to change, and studying can be tedious and aversive,
other ways of improving educational outcomes would be welcome.
Bolstering self–esteem has long seemed a promising and appealing
way to improve student performance. Researchers began to find posi-
tive correlations between self–esteem and school performance (grades
and test scores) in the 1960s, and by 1979 Wylie concluded that the link
was sufficiently well–replicated to be considered a proven fact, although
the correlations were typically relatively modest (Valentine, DuBois, &
Cooper, 2004). Socially concerned persons speculated that the disturb-
ingly low academic performance of some stigmatized minority groups
might be caused by their low self–esteem resulting from society’s mes-
sages of inferiority. Sound theoretical arguments further supported the
idea that self–esteem contributes to improved performance, for high
self–esteem should lead to setting higher goals and the confidence
needed to bounce back from initial failure with renewed effort (see
Bachman & O’Malley, 1977; Di Paula & Campbell, 2002; McFarlin &
Baumeister, 1984). The view that confidence promotes effort and
thereby brings success is deeply rooted in American culture.
Hence, it is hardly surprising that many schools began using self–es-
teem bolstering programs in the justifiable hope that this would lead to
better school performance. The self–esteem programs proved popular
with both teachers and students, possibly because exercises in
self–praise and reciprocal flattery are somewhat more enjoyable uses of
class time than, say, doing arithmetic. A 2006 Google.com search for “el-
448 FORSYTH ET AL.
ementary school mission statement self–esteem” found 308,000 web
sites (Twenge, 2006). Generally those mission statements say that elevat-
ing self–esteem of students is a primary goal to be pursued in advance of
academic performance rather than as a result.
In retrospect, there were some reasons to doubt that bolstering self–es-
teem would bear fruit in terms of improved test scores. The well–estab-
lished positive correlation between self–esteem and academic perfor-
mance that Wylie (1979) affirmed was not necessarily due to the causal
effects of self–esteem. Rather, good grades in school were more likely
the cause of increases in self–esteem (alongside third–variable causes;
see Bachman & O’Malley, 1977, 1986; Maruyama, Rubin, & Kingsbury,
1981). The minority groups turned out not to suffer uniformly from low
self–esteem as had been supposed (Crocker & Major, 1989; Twenge &
Crocker, 2002), and Sommers (1995) pointed out that the group data on
school performance of White and Black boys and girls suggested an in-
verse correlation with self–esteem, such that White girls had the lowest
average self–esteem and the best school records, while Black boys
scored highest on self–esteem but lowest in school performance. As for
interventions aimed specifically at boosting self–esteem, an early litera-
ture review by Scheirer and Kraut (1979) reached the pessimistic conclu-
sion that these interventions do not succeed at improving school perfor-
mance. Similarly, Valentine and his colleagues (2004), in their
meta–analytic synthesis of studies that measured self–esteem and per-
formance at several points in time, concluded the evidence did not
support “interventions that are aimed solely at improving students’
views of themselves” (p. 129).
The lack of evidence about the academic benefits of bolstering self–es-
teem, despite the widespread school programs, may also reflect meth-
odological drawbacks. The very belief in the value of self–esteem has
made it seem cruel and unethical to withhold these benefits from some
students, so most interventions lack any sort of control group that could
be used as a comparison baseline to assess the value of boosting self–es-
teem. The present study was designed with random assignment of indi-
vidual participants to self–esteem boosting or not, and we suspect that
almost no elementary or secondary school self–esteem program is ad-
ministered on that basis. This study offers an opportunity to assess the
effects of self–esteem bolstering on academic performance with an
experimental design.
Personal control was a second focus of the present investigation. As
with self–esteem, we had ample theoretical and empirical justification
for predicting that bolstering a sense of control would improve test per-
formance. In school, control means taking responsibility for one’s work
and attributing performance to inner causes, especially effort. Prior evi-
BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 449
dence indicates that a sense of being unable to control one’s outcomes
can be debilitating, even paralyzing, in the form of learned helplessness
(Seligman, 1975). Students who regularly attribute their grades to fac-
tors they control are more successful than those who think they do not
control their academic outcomes (Diener & Dweck, 1980). When Dweck
(1975) trained children to attribute their failures to lack of effort—an in-
ternal, controllable cause—they showed improved persistence after ini-
tial failure. Wilson and Linville (1982, 1985) used attributional training
to convince college students that most of their peers managed to im-
prove their grades over the course of their college careers. Relative to
controls, these students were less likely to drop out and their grades im-
proved. Noel, Forsyth, and Kelley (1987) similarly found that students
who were failing a psychology class responded well when their attribu-
tions were shifted away from external, uncontrollable factors (such as
“difficult test”) to internal, controllable causes (such as effort and moti-
vation). This attributional bolstering of the sense of personal control and
responsibility led to higher grades at the end of the course, as compared
to a control group.
The present study targeted all students who received C, D, or F on the
first examination in a large psychology course. By random assignment,
some received weekly messages for the rest of the term aimed at bolster-
ing their self–esteem. A second group received messages aimed at bol-
stering the sense of internal control and personal responsibility. A third
group received no such intervention, but all three groups did receive
weekly review questions as study aids. This design is consistent with the
procedures used in many school self–esteem programs, including
for–profit interventions. These programs usually include study skills
training, seemingly in implicit acknowledgment that bolstering self–es-
teem alone is not enough. The present investigation offered a rare
chance to separate the benefits of self–esteem bolstering from study aids,
even while using both together in the crucial condition.
We undertook this study expecting that academic performance would
improve from both the self–esteem and the internal/control interven-
tions, but that either one might prove more effective than the other. We
felt it was ethically acceptable to include a control group that did not re-
ceive any such intervention because they were essentially receiving the
same treatment that most students in most classes received, and so no
group was put at a disadvantage relative to every day life. Moreover, if
we could establish that one or possibly both interventions reliably im-
proved learning and/or test performance, then these findings could
benefit many students. Our a priori hypothesizing was mainly divided
as to whether the self–esteem or the internal/control intervention would
prove more successful at improving grades.
450 FORSYTH ET AL.
METHOD
PARTICIPANTS
All students who received a C, D, or F (thus below 80% correct) on the
first major examination in a large psychology class, and who had stu-
dent email accounts listed on the class listserve were invited to partici-
pate in return for partial course credit. Thus, 141 of 305 students received
invitations, 51 failed to respond. The remaining 90 (68 women) took
part. They were tracked in two groups, based on having earned a C (N =
45) versus a D or F (N = 45). Four students withdrew before the semester
ended, leaving a final sample of 86.
PROCEDURE
The entire study was conducted via electronic mail. Participants were
initially contacted via the student email accounts and invited to take part
in a study concerned with “communication and the use of email.” Partic-
ipants were told that the purpose of the emails was to provide them with
information about academic performance. Each week they would re-
ceive a message containing a review question pertaining to the material
covered in class, and they were required to acknowledge receipt of the
email within 24 hours to qualify for their credit as participants.
We then randomly assigned students into one of 3 conditions:
no–message control, internal/control, and self–esteem bolstering. Par-
ticipants in the control condition received only the review question each
week. Participants in the internal/control condition also received the re-
view question, but it was accompanied by messages (based on those
used by Noel et al., 1987) that encouraged them to take responsibility for
their performance in the course. The first message, for example, stated:
Past research suggests that when students get back their tests, they tend
to blame poor scores on external factors: they say things like “the test
was too hard,” or “the prof didn’t explain that,” or “the questions are
too picky.” Other studies suggest, though, that students who take re-
sponsibility for their grades not only get better grades, but they also
learn that they, personally, can control the grades they get . . . Bottom
line: Take personal control of your performance.
Students in the self–esteem bolstering condition also received the re-
view questions, but their email messages stressed the importance of
maintaining high self–esteem. The first message, for example, stated:
Past research suggests that when students get back their tests, they tend
BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 451
to lose confidence: they say things like “I can’t do this,” or “I’m worth-
less,” or “I’m not as good as other people in college.” Other studies sug-
gest, though, that students who have high self–esteem not only get
better grades, but they remain self–confident and assured . . . Bottom
line: Hold your head—and your self–esteem—high.
We sent students an email message each week for a total of 6 weeks.
They received the last message the week before they completed the final
examination in the class, which we used as a measure of the impact of
each type of message on their academic performance.
As a manipulation check, the last email message also asked partici-
pants to indicate their degree of agreement, on a 5–point scale that
ranged from Agree Strongly (5) to Disagree Strongly (1), with 4 statements
pertaining to control and self–esteem. We averaged the items “I am in
control of my grades in Psychology 101” and “There are things that I can
do to control my grade in Psychology 101” to obtain an index of control
perceptions and the items “I feel good about myself as a student in Psy-
chology 101” and “I feel good about myself in general” to form a index of
self–esteem. Seventeen students did not provide responses to these
items.
RESULTS
The average grade on the final examination, across the entire class of 255,
was 69.0%, a decrease from the first test mean of 74.8%. The students
who participated in the study were all ones who had earned Cs or lower
on the first test, and their grades declined from 67.7% to 63.5%. Exam
scores did not differ by sex; F(1, 84) = 0.44, ns.
ACADEMIC OUTCOMES
The main dependent measure was score on the final examination, mea-
sured as percentage correct. We examined these scores using a 2 (Test 1
Grade: C vs. D/F) ×3 (Condition: No–Message Control, Internal/Con-
trol, and Self–esteem Bolstering) ×2 (Sex) ×2 (Test: Test 1 vs. Final)
mixed ANOVA, with repeated measures on the final factor. Two effects
that emerged in this analysis, the main effect of time, F(1, 74) = 12.40, p<
.01, η2= .14 and the interaction of time and condition, F(2, 74) = 3.08, p=
.05, η2= .08, were qualified by the 3–way interaction of time, condition,
and grade graphed in Figure 1; F(2, 74) = 3.10, p= .05, η2= .08. The pat-
tern of students’ grades was the opposite of our predictions, and in fact
D and F students in the self–esteem bolstering condition showed a sub-
stantial drop in grades from the midterm (57% correct) to 38% on the fi-
452 FORSYTH ET AL.
nal. This drop in scores was significant both statistically (p<.05) and
academically (dropping from the borderline for passing into the low F
range). The grades for C students declined somewhat from the first test
to the final, but the decrements did not vary systematically as a function
of message condition. The D and F students in the no–message control
condition and in the internal/controllability condition did not change.
BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 453
FIGURE 1. Mean examination scores for C and D/F students in the Self-es-
teem (SE) bolstering condition, the Internal/Controllable Condition, and the
Control condition.
SELF–ESTEEM AND CONTROL
A 2 (Test 1 Grade: C grade vs. D/F grade) ×3 (Condition: Control, Inter-
nal/Control, and Self–esteem) ×2 (Sex) ANOVA of the control and
self–esteem indexes yielded limited support for the effectiveness of the
manipulations. Given the relatively high rate of non–responses on the fi-
nal questionnaire and the possible unreliability of these 2–item scales,
we suggest these effects be interpreted cautiously.
Self–esteem. Treatment condition had only a marginal effect on the two
items measuring self–esteem; F(2, 57) = 2.32 p<.11, η2= .08. However,
Duncan’s New Multiple Range Test indicated that students in the
self–esteem condition (M = 4.3) reported more positive self–evaluations
than students in the internal/control condition (M = 3.7), while the con-
trol condition (M = 3.9) fell in between and did not differ from either.
Moreover, these findings may reflect a restriction in range caused by a
ceiling effect: 70% of respondents in the self–esteem bolstering condition
and 50% of respondents in the other two conditions gave themselves the
highest possible rating on these items.1
Control. The only significant effect in the ANOVA of the control index
was the main effect of condition; F(2, 57) = 3.58 p<.05, η2= .11. Duncan’s
New Multiple Range Test indicated that students in the self–esteem con-
dition (M = 4.8) reported higher feelings of control than students in the
no–message condition (M = 4.3). The mean for the internal/control con-
dition (M = 4.5) fell intermediate and did no differ from either.
Correlational analyses. Sense of control and self–esteem were positively
correlated; r(69) = .24. Only self–esteem, however, was positively corre-
lated with both first exam grade, r(69) = .34 and final exam grade, r(69) =
.26, ps<.05. When the latter correlation was corrected for the former, it be-
came nonsignificant; r(66)= .09, ns. These results replicate earlier findings
that high self–esteem is correlated with better grades but not because of
any causal influence of self–esteem. That is, having high self–esteem after
our interventions predicted getting better grades on the exam, but this
was due to having gotten better grades on the earlier exam.
DISCUSSION
The present study presented an unusual opportunity to test the aca-
demic impact of bolstering self–esteem or a sense of control in a field ex-
454 FORSYTH ET AL.
1. The interaction of sex with grade on Test 1, F(1, 57) = 4.17 p<.05, 02= .07, on this item
indicated that men and women who had Cs on the first test reported nearly identical
self–esteem; 4.08 and 4.07. But among students who received Ds and Fs on the first test,
men reported much higher levels of self–esteem than women; 4.3 and 3.5, respectively.
periment design that included random assignment to conditions and
actual grades. We unexpectedly discovered that bolstering self–esteem
led to poorer performance, especially among the weaker (D and F) stu-
dents. Students with low grades on the first examination who then re-
ceived messages aimed at bolstering their self–esteem performed worse
afterwards. The decline in performance was meaningful in absolute
terms, going from borderline passing to a low F, and also in relative
terms, being significantly worse than the no–message control group and
the responsibility attribution group, both of which did not change. The C
students who received the self–esteem bolstering messages likewise got
worse, although C students in the other conditions also showed some
decline. The attempt to increase students’ feelings of responsibility and
control over their outcomes also failed to help them improve their
grades. Taylor and Brown (1988) suggested that a sense of control helps
“make each individual’s world a warmer and more active and beneficial
place in which to live” (p. 205), but our participants, who were reminded
to avoid externalizing the blame for their failures, did not improve their
scores over time.
Why did these interventions fail? Looking first at self–esteem, we col-
lected these data before the publication of Baumeister, Campbell,
Krueger, and Vohs’s (2003) and Valentine, DeBois, and Cooper’s (2004)
reviews of the self–esteem literature. Even though those reviews ques-
tion the beneficial effects of raising self–esteem, the negative effects of
bolstering self–esteem we report here are rare ones. Baumeister and his
colleagues cautioned that boosting self–evaluation independent of ac-
tual performance might encourage people to adopt a cavalier, defensive
attitude toward external demands and criteria. In the present context, it
is conceivable that the messages aimed at bolstering self–esteem some-
how convinced participants to think well of themselves regardless of
their academic efforts and outcomes. Indeed, weak students may main-
tain self–esteem best by withdrawing effort and minimizing the degree
to which their self–esteem is contingent on good grades (see Crocker &
Park, 2004; Forsyth, 1986). In the present context, such withdrawal
would most likely have had an adverse impact on studying and other
forms of effort, possibly leading to the poor performance on the final
exam.
Turning to a sense of control, recent reviews have raised questions
about the value of unrealistically positive views of the self, including ex-
aggerated feelings of control (Dunning et al., 2004). Even though a sense
of control may provide a buffer against the motivational side–effects of
helplessness, feelings of unrealistic optimism can lead to complacency
rather than active coping. When the students were assured that they,
themselves, controlled their outcomes, they may not engage in the types
BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 455
of behaviors that would have improved their grades in the class, such as
studying, attending lectures, and completing assignments. Even though
prior studies using similar methods have successfully manipulated
sense of control, the use of emailed messages may have been less effec-
tive in effecting a change in sense of control. Recent findings, too, sug-
gest that a sense of controllability, independent of context or domain,
may not facilitate achievement in a specific setting. Self–efficacy theory,
for example, recommends using interventions that bolster confidence
with regard to the specific intellectual skills and learning activities
needed to perform well at the course’s tasks instead of inducing a
generalized sense of control (Lodewyk & Winne, 2005).
The present findings raise obstacles for further research. Self–esteem
bolstering interventions are widespread in the United States, as we
noted in the introduction, and for that reason deserve careful scrutiny. If
they are causing students with low grades to do worse in school—as the
present findings indicated, and that grade inflation could conceal in
most school settings—then it seems imperative to conduct careful, rigor-
ous tests. Longitudinal survey studies like those reviewed by Valentine
et al. (2004) provide data on large samples of students in school settings,
but random assignment to experimental conditions enables causal hy-
potheses to be tested reliably with substantially smaller samples. Given
the pragmatic difficulties of withholding treatments from students who
are thought likely to benefit from them, few such studies are done, and
so the published literature is largely devoid of studies like the present
one. Moreover, it may be unethical to conduct properly designed studies
in which one treatment has a chance of causing students to get worse
grades than they would otherwise. The present findings are particularly
important to consider, given that we can not ethically justify replicating
these findings without eliminating the now known risks to participants.
We urge any other researchers with relevant data to come forward, for
the research community should not quietly conclude that bolstering
self–esteem harms performance while thousands of schools continue to
bolster self–esteem in the misguided but unquestioned belief that it will
improve performance.
Limitations of this study must be acknowledged. We studied a rela-
tively small number of students (although the effect was sufficiently ro-
bust to reach significance). The self–esteem bolstering was well inten-
tioned and resembles other interventions in content, but it is in principle
conceivable that other interventions would have the desired (opposite)
effect. Our self–esteem intervention was also designed to bolster both
general and academic self–esteem, and so the findings do not inform
multidimensional models of the self (e.g., Marsh & Craven, 1997). The
use of email, too, may have also produced different effects from
456 FORSYTH ET AL.
face–to–face self–esteem bolstering. Generalizing across cultural and
generational boundaries is hazardous. Twenge’s (2006) cross–temporal
meta–analyses have shown that the current generation of young adults,
who comprised our sample, differs substantially and significantly from
previous generations in several relevant respects. Most notably, they
have higher self–esteem and lower beliefs in internal control. The pres-
ent manipulations of self–esteem and responsibility attribution thus
were delivered to members of a generation who are already relatively
high on one dimension and low on the other.
Also, all members of this sample had just received a grade of C or be-
low on the first test in an introductory psychology course. It is entirely
possible that bolstering self–esteem among high–achieving students
would be free of ill effects and might even be beneficial. Some research-
ers have speculated that boosting self–esteem in recognition of success-
ful achievement may be an effective strategy to promote good perfor-
mance and socially desirable outcomes (e.g., Baumeister et al., 2003).
The present findings indicate merely that boosting self–esteem or en-
couraging feelings of controllability in the wake of poor performance
can be costly and counterproductive.
The self–esteem movement that began in the 1970s appears to have
succeeded, at least to the degree that it raised self–esteem scores across
North America. A meta–analysis by Twenge and Campbell (2001) indi-
cated that the median male college student around 1995 had higher
self–esteem than 86% of his peers in 1968 had. Another meta–analysis by
Haney and Durlak (1998) confirmed that the self–esteem boosting
school programs do succeed, on average, at increasing scores on self–es-
teem measures. (Whether this reflects actual change in self–concept, or
merely enhanced willingness to rate oneself positively on question-
naires, remains unclear, even in the national data.) Narcissism, mean-
while, may have increased even more than self–esteem (Twenge, 2006).
Despite these well documented improvements in self–appraisal, SAT
scores have gone down over the same period. That seemingly paradoxi-
cal pattern fits well with the present findings, which suggest that bol-
stering self–appraisals in the absence of objective or contingent success
will make school performance worse rather than better.
In sum, we continue to believe that adequate self–esteem and a sense
of control are hallmarks of good adjustment (see also, Taylor & Brown,
1988). The present findings suggest only that bolstering them directly,
independent of actual performance, may be ineffective as a strategy for
improving students’ work (at least for students whose grades are al-
ready below average). Possibly self–esteem boosts can help learning by
serving as a reward for good performance. Perhaps self–esteem boosts
that stress hard work, strategizing, and persistence can enhance perfor-
BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 457
mance without the accompanying pitfalls of self–praise unrelated to
performance (Kamins & Dweck, 1999). But persuading students to think
well of themselves despite having performed poorly on a first test
seems, if anything, to make students do even worse.
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BOLSTERING SELF–ESTEEM 459
... It predicted that encouraging students to maintain their sense of self-worth and construe their academic outcomes as controllable would promote achievement. (Forsyth et al. 2007) Psychological interventions based on self-esteem exercises, enhance person's ability to perform better on any task, it contribute to flourish person's functioning in society (Lin-Siegler, Dweck, and Cohen 2016). Interventions to enhance self-esteem could appear in many different forms such as individual, group, self-administered or administered by professional. ...
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Self-esteem plays a vital role as a contributor for achievement. This study is proposed to examine the effects of self-esteem interventions towards academic achievement. Research was conducted with Pretest-posttest of quasi-experimental design. Three groups from undergraduate psychology program (n=90), (male=12, female=78), (age 22-25) were selected with convenient sampling method. The Rosenberg self-esteem (Rosenberg 1965) scale was used to assess self-esteem, and grades were collected from academic division after the completion of academic semester. Students were divided in three groups' intervention group (n=30), placebo group (n=30) and control group (n=30). All groups received different treatment based on group plan, per week 45 minutes, for 12 weeks. Intervention group received self-esteem interventions, and placebo group were provided with some material related to self-esteem, control group received only sessions for discussion related to their activities per week. Results of One way MANOVA analysis revealed that there was significant variation (* p < 0.05) of self-esteem score between the results of three groups, the intervention group self-esteem was significantly higher than the placebo and control group. There was significant difference in scores of higher academic achievement among intervention group. Study concluded that student's academic achievements were increased with increased level of self-esteem. Self-esteem interventions are effective for further the better implication and outcome in education.
... Salah satu pentingnya harga diri bagi siswa adalah munculnya performa akademik siswa. Penelitian menyebutkan bahwa self-esteem memiliki pengaruh yang signifikan terhadap performa akademik siswa (Forsyth et al., 2007). Terdapat hasil penelitian lain yang menyebutkan bahwa self-esteem memiliki korelasi yang signifikan terhadap prestasi belajar (Aryana, 2010;Pullmann & Allik, 2008). ...
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Emotion regulation is an important variable to support students’ optimal development. Students with high emotion regulation tend to minimize their aggressive behavior. However, some students have difficulty in regulating their emotions. Previous studies show that attachment and self-esteem influence emotion regulation. This study aims to examine the effect of the two variables on emotion regulation of students. 150 randomly selected students were involved in the study. Multiple linear regression was applied to analyze the research data. The results showed that there was a significant effect of attachments and self-esteem on emotion regulation. Attachment and self-esteem influence emotion regulation by 76.3% while other variables influence it by the remaining 23.7%. The result can be used as a basis for constructing guidance and counseling services that involve attachment and self-esteem to improve the emotion regulation of students. Abstrak: Regulasi emosi menjadi unsur penting bagi siswa untuk menunjang perkembangannya secara optimal. Akan tetapi, ada berbagai macam masalah terkait rendahnya tingkat regulasi emosi siswa, misalnya siswa menunjukkan berbagai tindakan kekerasan bahkan perilaku agresi. Beberapa variabel yang berpengaruh terhadap regulasi emosi adalah attachment dan harga diri siswa. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengidentifikasi pengaruh attachment, harga diri dengan regulasi emosi siswa. Penelitian ini melibatkan sampel sebanyak 150 siswa yang dipilih secara acak. Teknik analisis data yang digunakan dalam penelitian ini adalah analisis regresi linier berganda. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara attachment dan harga diri dengan regulasi emosi. Attachment dan harga diri memengaruhi kemampuan regulasi emosi siswa sebesar 76,3% dan sisanya 23,7% dipengaruhi oleh variabel lain. Hasil penelitian ini dapat dijadikan sebagai bahan pertimbangan bagi konselor sekolah dalam memberikan layanan yang tepat bagi siswa untuk meningkatkan regulasi emosi siswa dengan melibatkan variabel attachment dan harga diri siswa.
... Salah satu pentingnya harga diri bagi siswa adalah mampu meningkatkan performa akademik siswa. Penelitian menyebutkan bahwa harga diri memiliki pengaruh yang signifikan terhadap performa akademik siswa (Forsyth, Lawrence, Burnette, & Baumeister, 2007). Hasil penelitian lain menyebutkan bahwa harga diri memiliki korelasi yang signifikan terhadap prestasi belajar (Aryana, 2010;Pullmann & Allik, 2008). ...
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Self-esteem is an important element for students to support their development optimally. However, students performed various problems related to the students’ self-esteem level. For instance, students posted their activities and problems on social media. One variable affected self-esteem was students’ emotional control. This study aimed to identify the effect of emotional control on students’ self-esteem. This study involved 612 students as sample who were randomly selected in the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Data analysis technique in this research was regression analysis. Results indicated that there was a significant effect of emotional control on students’ self-esteem. This study recommended a counseling service to increase students’ self-esteem by involving emotional control variable. Abstrak: Harga diri merupakan unsur penting bagi siswa agar dapat berkembang secara optimal. Akan tetapi, siswa kerap kali mengalami masalah yang berkaitan dengan rendahnya harga diri mereka, misalnya siswa menunjukkan berbagai kegiatan dan masalahnya di media sosial. Salah satu variabel yang berpengaruh terhadap harga diri adalah regulasi emosi siswa. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengidentifikasi pengaruh regulasi emosi terhadap harga diri siswa. Penelitian ini melibatkan sampel sebanyak 612 siswa sekolah menengah atas (SMA) yang dipilih secara acak di Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta. Teknik analisis data yang digunakan dalam penelitian ini adalah analisis regresi. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa terdapat pengaruh yang signifikan antara regulasi emosi terhadap harga diri siswa. Penelitian ini merekomendasikan sebuah program layanan konseling untuk meningkatkan harga diri siswa dengan melibatkan variabel regulasi emosi.
... In particular, those with greater objective numeracy and lower confidence appear to have disengaged, as they are much less likely to be the financial decision maker in their household compared to those with similar skills and more numeric confidence. These results are consistent with other research suggesting that having confidence can be beneficial (61), but overly positive self-beliefs can lead to negative consequences (62)(63)(64)(65). In the present studies, it was not ideal to have low ability with high confidence or high ability with low confidence. ...
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People often laugh about being “no good at math.” Unrecognized, however, is that about one-third of American adults are likely too innumerate to operate effectively in financial and health environments. Two numeric competencies conceivably matter—objective numeracy (ability to “run the numbers” correctly; like literacy but with numbers) and numeric self-efficacy (confidence that provides engagement and persistence in numeric tasks). We reasoned, however, that attaining objective numeracy’s benefits should depend on numeric confidence. Specifically, among the more objectively numerate, having more numeric confidence (vs. less) should lead to better outcomes because they persist in numeric tasks and have the skills to support numeric success. Among the less objectively numerate, however, having more (vs. less) numeric confidence should hurt outcomes, as they also persist, but make unrecognized mistakes. Two studies were designed to test the generalizability of this hypothesized interaction. We report secondary analysis of financial outcomes in a diverse US dataset and primary analysis of disease activity among systemic lupus erythematosus patients. In both domains, best outcomes appeared to require numeric calculation skills and the persistence of numeric confidence. “Mismatched” individuals (high ability/low confidence or low ability/high confidence) experienced the worst outcomes. For example, among the most numerate patients, only 7% of the more numerically confident had predicted disease activity indicative of needing further treatment compared with 31% of high-numeracy/low-confidence patients and 44% of low-numeracy/high-confidence patients. Our work underscores that having 1 of these competencies (objective numeracy or numeric self-efficacy) does not guarantee superior outcomes.
... For example, directly telling students why their schoolwork is important can reduce academic achievement (Godes et al. 2007), whereas asking students to create their own reasons for the importance of coursework can substantially promote grades (Hulleman and Harackiewicz 2009). Similarly, instructing students to maintain high levels of self-esteem and selfconfidence in the face of academic setbacks can also lead to lower academic performance, especially for students who started with lower achievement (Forsythe et al. 2007). Finally, telling students about the potential benefits of self-affirmation can undermine the impact of providing this affirmation, which may help students feel "at home" within school environments that would otherwise be perceived as threatening (Sherman et al. 2009). ...
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First-year seminars are frequently designed to help students adjust to and succeed in college. Although considerable literature has explored this topic, many previous studies may have notable problems with self-selection, since students who choose to participate are likely more motivated academically than those who do not. Therefore, this study used quasi-experimental analyses within a large, longitudinal, multi-institutional dataset to explore the link between seminar participation and several student success outcomes. Overall, the use of propensity score analyses substantially alters the results, such that first-year seminars are positively associated with first-year college satisfaction, but they have no effect on fourth-year satisfaction, college grades, retention, or four-year graduation within the full sample. This lack of impact is largely consistent regardless of whether the seminar is designed to engage students in academic inquiry or to promote orientation and academic success. Additional analyses observed some differential effects of first-year seminars by race/ethnicity, ACT score, and sex; the most consistent finding is that first-year seminars appear to promote the college grades and college satisfaction of Black students. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Chapter
Emotional safety is considered a defining component of a positive learning environment and is related to psychological well-being, and positive academic and social outcomes. In schools, emotional safety is developed through supportive relationships; being valued and treated with respect; and clear boundaries and support for students to achieve their potential academically, socially and personally. Research indicates that emotionally unsafe environments lead to stress, lower attendance at school, and less engagement in learning, whereas emotionally safe environments are related to more positive identity development, better learning experiences and greater feelings of worth. A systems-focused approach is the most effective way to develop an emotionally safe environment. This chapter will explore: (1) the importance of emotional safety for students; (2) definitions of emotional safety; (3) approaches to intervention; and (4) measurement of emotional safety. By developing emotional safety in schools, it is feasible that there will be a positive impact on academic, behavioural, emotional, physical and mental well-being outcomes for students.
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Introduction. Social skills may prevent burnout and enhance engagement in students by increasing social support and improving relationships with peers and teachers. Method. This study explores the interrelation between self-reported social skills and experienced burnout and engagement among 351 university students (70.5% women, 29.5% men) in different study fields. The Study Burnout Inventory (SBI-9), the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale-Student (UWES-S) and a social skills questionnaire were utilised. The data was analysed using linear regression analysis. Results. The results show an association between higher social skills and lower burnout and higher engagement. Higher engagement was also associated to lower burnout. Discussion and Conclusion. The findings imply that targeting social skills might offer a way to increase engagement and diminish burnout among students. Keywords: burnout, engagement, university students, higher education, social skills
Chapter
Critical Thinking in Psychology - edited by Robert J. Sternberg January 2020
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Social–psychological interventions in education have shown remarkable promise as brief, inexpensive, and powerful methods for improving educational equity and inclusion by helping underperforming students realize their potential. These findings have led to intensive study and replication attempts to understand and close achievement gaps at scale. In the present review, we identify several significant issues this work has raised that bear on the theoretical, ethical, and policy implications of using these interventions to close achievement gaps. Using both classic and contemporary models of threat and performance, we propose a Zone Model of Threat to predict when social–psychological interventions in education may yield positive, null, and negative effects for specific students. From this analysis, we argue from an ethical standpoint that to reduce backfire effects, interventions should be focused on optimizing the salience of psychological threat across students rather than on uniformly reducing it. As a long‐term policy goal, intervention studies should follow a two‐step process, in which students’ individual levels of threat are first diagnosed and then interventions are tailored to the students based on their threat levels. Practical and theoretical implications of the proposed framework are discussed.
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A meta-analytic review finds that college students' self-esteem increased substantially between 1968 and 1994 when measured using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE). Children's scores on the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI) show a curvilinear pattern over time, decreasing from 1965 to 1979 and increasing from 1980 to 1993. Children's SEI scores are directly correlated with social statistics (e.g., divorce rate, unemployment) for the corresponding years. Analyses for age differences find that SEI scores decrease slightly during the transition from elementary school to junior high and then rise progressively through high school and college. RSE scores increase steadily with age. Results are discussed in terms of the antecedents of self-esteem, including social acceptance, competencies, and the culture of self-worth.
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The causal impact of attributions on academic performance was examined by changing low-scoring students' attributions regarding their poor performances. Initially, when students who were failing a college course identified the cause of the performance, they emphasized external, uncontrollable causes. Because these self-serving attributions could have perpetuated poor performance on subsequent examinations, students in the experimental condition were exposed to information that suggested that grades in college are caused by internal, controllable factors such as effort and motivation. As predicted, on subsequent tests and on the final examination, these students earned higher grades than control students who received no attributional information. These findings lend support to an attributional model of academic achievement and also suggest that educational interventions that shift attributions away from a self-serving pattern to a performance-facilitating pattern may improve academic outcomes.
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These meta-analyses examine race differences in self-esteem among 712 datapoints. Blacks scored higher than Whites on self-esteem measures ( d =0.19), but Whites scored higher than other racial minority groups, including Hispanics ( d =-0.09), Asians ( d =-0.30), and American Indians ( d =-0.21). Most of these differences were smallest in childhood and grew larger with age. Blacks' self-esteem increased over time relative to Whites', with the Black advantage not appearing until the 1980s. Black and Hispanic samples scored higher on measures without an academic self-esteem subscale. Relative to Whites, minority males had lower self-esteem than did minority females, and Black and Hispanic self-esteem was higher in groups with high socioeconomic status. The results are most consistent with a cultural interpretation of racial differences in self-esteem. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Human beings are unique in their ability to think consciously about themselves. Because they have a capacity for self-awareness not shared by other animals, people can imagine themselves in the future, anticipate consequences, plan ahead, improve themselves, and perform many other behaviors that are uniquely characteristic of human beings. Yet, despite the obvious advantages of self-reflection, the capacity for self-thought comes at a high price as people's lives are adversely affected and their inner chatter interferes with their success, pollutes their relationships, and undermines their happiness. Indeed, self-relevant thought is responsible for most of the personal and social difficulties that human beings face as individuals and as a species. Among other things, the capacity for self-reflection distorts people's perceptions, leading them to make bad decisions based on faulty information. The self conjures up a great deal of personal suffering in the form of depression, anxiety, anger, envy, and other negative emotions by allowing people to ruminate about the past or imagine the future. Egocentrism and egotism blind people to their own shortcomings, promote self-serving biases, and undermine their relationships with others. The ability to self-reflect also underlies social conflict by leading people to separate themselves into ingroups and outgroups. Ironically, many sources of personal unhappiness - such as addictions, overeating, unsafe sex, infidelity, and domestic violence - are due to people's inability to exert self-control. For those inclined toward religion and spirituality, visionaries throughout history have proclaimed that the egoic self stymies the quest for spiritual fulfillment and leads to immoral behavior.
Research from numerous corners of psychological inquiry suggests that self-assessments of skill and character are often flawed in substantive and systematic ways. We review empirical findings on the imperfect nature of self-assessment and discuss implications for three real-world domains: health, education, and the workplace. In general, people's self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance. The correlation between self-ratings of skill and actual performance in many domains is moderate to meager-indeed, at times, other people's predictions of a person's outcomes prove more accurate than that person's self-predictions. In addition, people overrate themselves. On average, people say that they are "above average" in skill (a conclusion that defies statistical possibility), overestimate the likelihood that they will engage in desirable behaviors and achieve favorable outcomes, furnish overly optimistic estimates of when they will complete future projects, and reach judgments with too much confidence. Several psychological processes conspire to produce flawed self-assessments. Research focusing on health echoes these findings. People are unrealistically optimistic about their own health risks compared with those of other people. They also overestimate how distinctive their opinions and preferences (e.g., discomfort with alcohol) are among their peers-a misperception that can have a deleterious impact on their health. Unable to anticipate how they would respond to emotion-laden situations, they mispredict the preferences of patients when asked to step in and make treatment decisions for them. Guided by mistaken but seemingly plausible theories of health and disease, people misdiagnose themselves-a phenomenon that can have severe consequences for their health and longevity. Similarly, research in education finds that students' assessments of their performance tend to agree only moderately with those of their teachers and mentors. Students seem largely unable to assess how well or poorly they have comprehended material they have just read. They also tend to be overconfident in newly learned skills, at times because the common educational practice of massed training appears to promote rapid acquisition of skill-as well as self-confidence-but not necessarily the retention of skill. Several interventions, however, can be introduced to prompt students to evaluate their skill and learning more accurately. In the workplace, flawed self-assessments arise all the way up the corporate ladder. Employees tend to overestimate their skill, making it difficult to give meaningful feedback. CEOs also display overconfidence in their judgments, particularly when stepping into new markets or novel projects-for example, proposing acquisitions that hurt, rather then help, the price of their company's stock. We discuss several interventions aimed at circumventing the consequences of such flawed assessments; these include training people to routinely make cognitive repairs correcting for biased self-assessments and requiring people to justify their decisions in front of their peers. The act of self-assessment is an intrinsically difficult task, and we enumerate several obstacles that prevent people from reaching truthful self-impressions. We also propose that researchers and practitioners should recognize self-assessment as a coherent and unified area of study spanning many subdisciplines of psychology and beyond. Finally, we suggest that policymakers and other people who makes real-world assessments should be wary of self-assessments of skill, expertise, and knowledge, and should consider ways of repairing self-assessments that may be flawed. © 2004 Association for Psychological Science.
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Attempts to apply psychological theories to education can falter on the translation of the theory into educational practice. Often, this translation is not clear. Therefore, when a program does not succeed, it is not clear whether the lack of success was due to the inadequacy of the theory or the inadequacy of the implementation of the theory. A set of basic principles for translating a theory into practice can help clarify just what an educational implementation should (and should not) look like. This article presents 12 principles for translating a triarchic theory of successful intelligence into educational practice.
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Reports 2 replications of the authors' (see record 1982-26799-001) study in which college freshmen were given information suggesting that the causes of low grades are unstable. Compared with a control group, these Ss did better on both short-term and long-term performance measures. The long-term results, however, tended to be weak or open to alternative explanations. In the 1st replication, 39 2nd-semester freshmen with low GPAs who worried about their academic performance were assigned to control or treatment conditions. Ss in the treatment conditions received information that grades are low in the freshman year; some Ss were also told that grades improve thereafter. In the 2nd replication, 41 1st-semester freshmen who worried about their low GPAs received grade information, completed questionnaires, and completed some items from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Considered together, these 3 studies found that attributional interventions improved the performance of Ss on both short-term and long-term measures. Presenting Ss with information indicating that the causes of low grades in the 1st yr are temporary led to (a) improvement on sample items from the GRE and (b) increases in actual grades in the semester after the studies were conducted. Results were stronger for males than for females. This may have been due to the fact that females were more likely to find out on their own that the causes of poor grades are unstable. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Causal models, guided by a "frame of reference" hypothesis, were used to examine whether school academic climates have any impacts on self-concepts of academic ability, global self-esteem, and long-range educational attainments. Analyses were based on a subsample of 1,487 White males from the Youth in Transition nationwide study of high school students. After the effects of individual ability and family socioeconomic status (SES) were controlled, there were only small negative effects of school mean ability on self-concepts and self-esteem. Educational attainment 5 yrs beyond high school was strongly influenced by background, ability, and grades, but there was little additional impact from self-concepts and self-esteem, and no overall effect attributable to school climate. Findings differ sharply from those reported by H. W. Marsh and J. W. Parker (see record 1984-32730-001), which were based on their study in 5 Australian schools. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Presents an animal model of how learned helplessness may manifest itself as depression and anxiety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)