INTRODUCTION Proponents of the Greek fraternity and sorority system on college campuses contend that the Greek system provides a strong system of social support and a “sisterhood” and “brotherhood” that offers unconditional acceptance. Many Greek organizations also require community service hours of their members that may result in an increased self-worth. Do these factors influence the self-esteem levels of the college students affiliated with a fraternity or sorority? Self-esteem is an extremely popular construct within psychology, and has been related to almost every other psychological concept or field, including personality and behavioral concepts. The Greek organizations are also said to encourage social, civic, and personal development of its members. Academic motivation is a commonly stated goal of most Greek organizations. Are the grade point averages of college students involved in Greek organizations higher than those college students who are not affiliated with Greek organizations? Despite the many assumptions and stereotypes regarding fraternities and sororities, there is relatively little research that investigates personality differences between students affiliated with fraternities and sororities and those not affiliated with fraternities and sororities. Not only may lack of self-esteem may be a serious problem for college students, but it may also affect a students’ ability to perform well in school. Inversely, poor academic achievement may also decrease a students’ self-esteem. In 1995, Thombs found that first-year college students with relatively low self-esteem were more likely to exhibit many problem behaviors, than those with higher self-esteem. Some examples included alcohol problems, poor time management, poor study habits, and self-defeating behavior, than those with higher self-esteem. In previous psychological studies, self-esteem has been linked to personal adjustment, physical health, and academic motivation and success among college students, through forms of social support. Based on the cognitive adaptation theory, Brown and Taylor (1988) found level of self-esteem to be directly related to seeking social support and indirectly to actual support, physical health and adjustment to college. Self-esteem was also found to be the best of five predictors (including SAT scores) of academic motivation, which was them linked to grade point average two years later. Given the obvious links between self-esteem and academic success, it is important to compare Greeks and non-Greeks on self-esteem. In 1998, Brand and Dodd conducted research relating self-esteem and academic achievement. They extended the work of Loeb and Magee (1992) by relating self-esteem, Greek affiliation and year in college. Brand and Dodd hypothesized that Greek men would have higher grade point averages than non-Greek men. It was also hypothesized that self-esteem scores would be progressively higher from the first year to the senior year. Using the Rosenberg’s 10-item Self-Esteem Scale and 8 demographic items, Brand and Dodd found that Greek men did have higher levels of self-esteem than non-Greek men. In contrast, the students’ year in college and their self-esteem did not support their hypothesis. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, previously mentioned, and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory are among the most popular and well-utilized measures of self-esteem. (Blascovich &Tomaka, 1991) According to Rosenberg, self-esteem is derived from two sources: how a person views her performance in areas in which success is important to her and how a person believes she is perceived by significant others, such as parents, teachers or peers. (Orenstein, 1994) Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale was originally used to measure adolescents’ global feelings of self-worth or self-acceptance, and is usually the standard against which all other scales are measured. It includes 10 items that are usually scored using a four-point response ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. (Blascovich &Tomaka, 1991) The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory was developed through research to access attitude toward oneself in general, and in specific contexts like peers, parents, school and personal interests. I was originally designed to use with children. Respondents are to state whether a set of 50 generally favorable or unfavorable aspects of a person are “like me” or “not like me.” Although many studies seem to support that self-esteem is influenced by participation in a Greek organization, some studies do not. Brown et al. (1988) proposed that in order for people to satisfy competing demands, people with low self-esteem enhance their feelings of self-worth by associating with others. (Baumeister, 1993, p.121) As he proposed, Brown’s findings suggested that people with low self-esteem seeked self-enhancement through their associations with others. Other studies have stated that self-esteem is not a dependent on just participating in a group, but it is dependent on the importance others give the group. In 1997, Smith & Tyler conducted a study that supported the hypothesis that personal self-esteem was influenced by the respect and pride that contributed to a positive sorority identity.In 1957, a comparative study was conducted between Greeks and non-Greeks on a cross-sectional sample from the University of Colorado. Greeks scored significantly higher on the value of academic achievement. They were also higher than non-Greeks on values of social skills, loyalty, and physical development. (Scott, 1965) Similar to the results in the 1957 study at the University of Colorado, another study was conducted by Bledsoe et. al in 1997 in which he used eight scales to measure different aspects among four organizations on a college campus. The scales measured rewards, purposes, structure, helpful mechanisms, relationships, leadership, external and institutional support. Sororities scored the highest on the rewards scale amongst service organizations, student governance and programming organizations, and academic organizations. The high score on the rewards scale meant that sorority members perceived the organization as having high visibility and a positive self-image on campus, conferring status and a sense of accomplishment through membership, having dedicated members, and contributing to the enrichment of student life. According to Bledsoe (1997), Involvement in extracurricular activities, especially holding leadership positions in student organizations, had a direct positive effect of students’ social self-concepts. It would be beneficial to know whether or not students affiliated with Greek organizations have higher levels of self-esteem and higher grade point averages than those college students not affiliated with Greek organizations. It was hypothesized based on past research that higher grade point averages and higher levels of self-esteem are found in subjects who participate in Greek (sorority or fraternity) organizations.
METHODParticipants The participants in this study were Loyola University undergraduate students who participated on a voluntary basis. The participants selected, represented all racial and ethnic groups. There were 50 non-Greeks and 50 Greeks participating in this study. All of the participants were over 18 years old. The participants were recruited through convenience sampling. The convenience sampling was aided by members of the Psychology department who announced to their students that a study was being conducted on the effects of participation in Greek organizations on college students’ grade point averages and self-esteem levels.Materials An informed consent form was made for the participants to sign. It told the participants what the experiment was meant to study, and the duties the participants were expected to perform. Two consent forms were given to the participants. One was for them to keep and one was to be signed and given back to the experimenter. The demographic questionnaire asked for age, sex, major, year of college, if affiliated with a Greek service or social organization and their grade point average. The two scales chosen to measure the participants self-esteem were the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965) and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (1967/1981). The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale consists of 10 items that are usually scored on a four point response ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. For each low- self-esteem answer the student receives a zero and one point for each high self-esteem answer. Students can score between zero and ten, e.g., zero indicates low self-esteem and ten indicates high self-esteem. Extensive and acceptable discriminant) exists for the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. (Rosenberg, 1965) The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Self-Esteem Inventory Scale was compiled with scores ranging from 120 to zero. Zero represents low self-esteem while 120 represents very high self-esteem. The scoring system for the Self-Esteem Inventory Scale was as follows:a)o pt, 1pt, 2pt, 3pt, 4pt for questions 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26, 28, and 29b) 4pt, 3pt, 2pt, 1pt, 0pt for questions 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, ,25, 27, 30The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory was originally developed to assess attitude toward oneself in general, and in specific contexts: peers, parents, school, and personal interests. Respondents state whether a set of 50 generally favorable of unfavorable aspects of a person are “like me” or “not like me.” Since two forms exist, we used the adult form which is used on people ages 16 and older. Acceptable reliability and validity information exists for the Self-Esteem Inventory. This test has internal consistency and test-retest reliability.Design and Procedure This research study utilized a quasi-experimental design. The independent variable was the participation of Loyola University students in Greek organizations on campus. The dependent variable was the level of self-esteem found from the two scales and the grade point average acquired through archival research. The self-esteem levels were measured by scores on the Rosenberg Scale and Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. The controlled environment was the outside variable in this quasi-experiment. The questionnaires were to be completed in the room specified by us. The primary investigator requested the Psychology department to announce to their classes that a project that wishes to document pride levels of Loyola University students needed volunteers to participate in a study. Campus e-mails were also sent out to all Loyola University students so that those interested could reply to the primary investigator if they wished to participate in the study. The primary investigator also set up a sign-up booth outside of the student center where interested students could sign up to complete the study at schedules times. The sign up sheet had spaces for interested students to provide their local phone numbers which were used to contact and remind the participants of their scheduled times.Participants were tested in groups. Upon arrival at the testing location (a classroom in Monroe hall), participants were seated comfortably and were given informed consent forms to read and sign. Once consent has been obtained, the participants were handed the test package. At the bottom of the consent form, the Career & Counseling Center number was given in the case that any psychological assistance was needed. They were asked not to put their name anywhere on the package, so instead they were assigned code numbers. During the first five minutes, they were asked to fill out the demographic information sheet. Then the participants were asked to fill out the to complete the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale. Once this task was completed, participants were then debriefed and the experimenters answered any questions they had. The subjects were told that the objective of this research was to study the levels of self-esteem and grade point averages of college students, and how self-esteem and grade point averages are influenced by participation in a Greek fraternity or sorority. Those who participated in the study for extra-credit were awarded points after the study was complete.
RESULTS Results The hypothesis in this study was not supported by the results of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale or the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. An independent groups t-test was performed to compare self-esteems of Greeks (M = 8.38, SD = 1.84) and non-Greeks (M = 8.740, SD = 1.426) using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. This was found not statistically significant t (98) = 1.094, p = .277. Using another scale, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, an independent groups t-test was used to compare the means for self-esteem among Greeks (M = 93.6, SD = 12.04) and non-Greeks (M = 91.54, SD = 14.86). These means were not found significantly significant t (98) = -.599, p = .551. The hypothesis was supported by the grade point averages of the participants in Greek organizations. An independent groups t-test was performed comparing the GPAs of Greeks (M = 3.24, SD = .46) and non-Greeks (M = 3.02, SD = .43). This was found to be statistically significant t(98)=2.505, p=.014. This suggests that Greeks have higher GPAs than non-Greeks.
DISCUSSION Discussion The results of this study did not support the original hypothesis that students in Greek organizations have higher levels of self-esteem than those not in Greek organizations. According to the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the self-esteems of Greeks (M = 8.38) and non-Greeks (M = 8.74) indicated both high levels of self-esteem and similarity in means. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale had similar results of Greeks (M = 93.16) and non-Greeks (M = 91.54) not having significant mean differences. Although significant differences were not found in the self-esteem levels of Greeks and non-Greeks, a significant difference was found in the GPAs of Greeks (M = 3.24) and non-Greeks (M = 3.02). The results of this study were different to that of Brand and Dodd (1998), who found that Greek men had higher self-esteems than non-Greek men. A possibility for why Greeks did not show higher self-esteems in this study could be because the sample collected included new members that had not yet experienced one full semester with the fraternity or sorority. Another possibility may be that a participant in Greek life may have answered negatively due to an experience within the Greek system. Scott (1965), who conducted a similar study, agrees that Greeks are more likely to perform better in academics than non-Greeks. Scott (1965) found that participants in Greek life have higher GPAs than non-participants in Greek life. In a more broad study, Bledsoe et al. (1997) found that participation in extracurricular activities, including participation in Greek life, had an effect on academic success in the future. Bledsoe et al. (1997) found that being involved in extracurricular activities had a positive correlation with completing a bachelor’s degree and continuing on after graduation with more extensive degrees such as graduate, professional or doctoral degrees. A possible effect on the validity of this study could have been due to the overwhelming number of sophomores (38) and a small number of seniors (18) participating in this study. The misrepresentation of the student population may have affected the results of this study. Many of the classes were students were recruited from were introductory classes such as Intro. to Accounting and Intro. to Psychology. Another contributing factor could have been that some of the participants may have joined Greek organizations in their second or third year, misrepresenting the Greek population as well. Another factor that may have affected the validity of this study was the university size. A larger sample from a larger university would have definitely increased the validity of this study.There are many possibilities as to why a Greek would have a higher grade point average. First of all, many of the fraternities and sororities on Loyola’s campus, foster community-like settings where academics are a priority. Awards at the end of the year are given to the fraternity and sorority with the highest grade point averages. In some individual sororities, awards are given semiannually to women who have the highest grade point averages. These award ceremonies may also motivate the Greek community to continue achieving good grades due to the positive reinforcement. For some organizations, weekly chapter meetings may encourage Greeks to talk about certain classes and their level of difficulty. Other sororities’ strong sense of community may result in organized study groups and mandatory study hours. Due to in-group norms, there is a possibility that Greek participants may feel pressured to maintain good grades to gain a sense of belonging to the group. Sometimes, the sororities’ or fraternities’ chapter averages may go down due to the grade point average of one member. As a result, a Greek participant may feel embarrassed and work harder to satisfy the group norms. Practical implications of this study may encourage those not in Greek organizations to create study groups, such as in Greek organizations, within the classroom atmosphere. Students may also share their study tips with the rest of their classmates. Non-Greek students may also want to ask Greek participants about methods and activities they participate in to gain academic achievement.One possible pilot study could be to study whether a students’ self-esteem level, previous to joining any Greek organization, has an effect on the choice a person makes to join a fraternity or sorority. Is a student with low self-esteem more likely to participate in rushing a Greek organization than a student with high self-esteem? This would support or not support the hypothesis that college students only join Greek life because they have low self-esteems. The results of this study may encourage academic success and increase participation in Greek organizations.
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Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Scott, W.A. (1965). Value and Organizations. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company. Smith, H.S. &Tyler, T.R. (1997). Choosing the right pond: the impact of group membership on self-esteem and group oriented behavior. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 33, 146-170.
APPENDIX AppendixSelf-Esteem QuestionnairePlease take a few minutes to provide us with the following information about yourself.1. Age:_________ years2. Sex (circle one): M F3. Major:_____________4. Year (circle one): FR SO JR SR5. Are you in a Social or Service Fraternity or Sorority? Yes No6. Cumulative Grade Point Average ___________7. On the whole I am satisfied with myselfStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 48. At times I think I am no good at allStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 49. I feel that I have a number of good qualitiesStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 410. I am able to do things as well as most other peopleStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 411. I feel I do not have much to be proud ofStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 412. I certainly feel useless at timesStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 413. I feel that I’m a person of worth at least on an equal plane with othersStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 414. I wish I could have more respect for myselfStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 415. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failureStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 416. I take a positive attitude toward myselfStrongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 417. In social situations, I have something interesting to sayAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 5
18. Most people around me seem to be better off than I amStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 19. I like being myself and accept the way I amAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 520. I mess up everything I touchAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 521. When I see a good opportunity, I recognize it and seize itAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 522. People respect and like only those who are good looking, smart, witty, talented or richStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 23. To me, success is not imperative. The most important thing is to try and do my bestStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 24. I deserve to be loved and respectedStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 25. Unlike others, I really have to go out of my way to make and keep a friendStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 26. If someone ever falls in love with me, I better do my best to prove worthy because it may well never happen to me againStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 27. Being myself is a guarantee that people will dislike meStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 28. I am not sure I have done a good job unless someone else points it outAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 529. I am afraid of being rejected by my friendsAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 530. If I don’t do as well as others, it means that I am an inferior personStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 31. I could disappear from the surface of the earth, and nobody would noticeStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5
32. A partial failure is as bad as a complete failureStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 33. In case of need, I know people who care enough about me to offer their helpStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 34. I feel worthless and futileAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 535. I feel I can make mistakes without losing the love or respect of othersAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 536. I let those who care about me downAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 537. If I can’t do something well, there is no point in doing it at allStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 38. I will never amount to anything significantStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 39. I don’t need other people’s approval in order to be happy and satisfied with myselfStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 40. I have what it takes to socialize with other peopleStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 41. I think I am a failureAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 542. Someone that stands up to me or disagrees with me may still very well like and respect meStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 43. By ignoring a problem, you can make it go awayStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 44. I see myself as someone special and worthy of other people’s attention and affectionAlmost never Rarely Sometimes Quite often Most of the time 1 2 3 4 545. How I feel about myself is more important than others’ opinions of meStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5 46. I will never be as capable as I should beStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3