INTRODUCTION Self-esteem is a major factor in the world today. This is evidenced by the numerous self-esteem and self-help books that line the shelves of bookstores and libraries. Some days people like who they are, and other days they want to change who they are. High self-esteem means "a positive attitude toward our own qualities; that we evaluate them highly; that we are imbued with a sense of our own ability, competence, and power to do what we want; that we compare ourselves favorably with others; and that we can organize our daily round of activities and performances in keeping with these feelings"(Smelser, 1989). Low self-esteem embodies the opposite of all these traits. This emotional roller coaster is especially prevalent during adolescence. Research shows that the peak time for low self-esteem is in middle to late adolescence (Nunley, 2001). Today`s teens are seeking self-approval through negative means. Unfortunately, this has lead to an increase in teen pregnancy, drug abuse, alcoholism, depression, and suicide. All these issues are extremely important to society as a whole. Research must be done to determine, not only causes for low self-esteem, but also ways in which one can prevent, or correct low self-esteem. Religiosity is the second strongest inhibitor of suicide, alcohol use, sexual involvement, and interpersonal violence in adolescence (Donahue and Benson,1995). Furthermore, parental involvement is the single most important guardian attitude affecting the proper development of self-esteem in children (Mruk, 1995). If we can determine if these factors influence, or effect self-esteem, then measures can be taken to promote these factors in families. Low self-esteem comes with low self-acceptance, but what would external acceptance do to ones level of self-esteem? Street gangs seem to serve this very purpose for teens. Obviously a negative form of support, gangs do provide an external support system and a sense of self worth, or self-esteem. There are positive alternatives for adolescents. Recent studies have shown that family support and religiosity do provide a needed factor for positive self-esteem in adolescents. One study (Donahue and Benson, 1995), established a positive link between religiousness and prosocial values and behavior. This study also established a negative relationship between religiosity and suicide ideation, substance abuse, premature sexual involvement, and delinquency. The study surveyed 250,000 public high school students across 32 states. Surveys tested 5 conceptual domains including external assets, internal assets, deficits, prosocial behavior, at risk indicators, and 3 questions concerning religiousness. After reviewing the surveys, taken by the students, it was found that in all cases the correlation between religiousness and substance abuse was negative. The study also revealed a strong negative correlation between religiosity and premarital sexual intercourse, altruism, and driving while intoxicated. This study revealed that the influence of religiousness in adolescent well-being cannot easily be explained away. This study did not show any correlation between family support and self-esteem, but there are studies that have been conducted focusing on this correlation. One study, conducted by Mandara and Murray (2000), studied the effects of family functioning on African American adolescent self-esteem. This study surveyed 116 African American adolescents testing the strength of family structure and self-esteem. Results from this study showed that family functioning was a very strong predictor of self-esteem for both sexes. Adolescents who lived in one parent homes showed an overall decrease in self-esteem as compared to those in two parent homes. It was also discovered that boys with non-married parents had significantly lower feelings of self-control, personal power, self-competence, and perceptions of body functions as compared to boys who had married parents. Girls also showed an overall higher level of self-esteem when they had married parents. This study shows the importance of the quality of family functioning and support as a predictor of adolescent self-esteem. Even though this study focused specifically on the African American population, it is assumed that these findings will be similar in all adolescents, regardless of ethnicity. There does not seem to be a lot of research done on the variables, family support and religiosity, in correlation with self-esteem. Most research focuses on one or the other, but does not combine the 2 variables in the research. Even taking the variables individually, research on this topic has been minimal.
METHOD Participants The 180 participants in this study consisted of high school teenagers, ranging in age from 14-18 years old. Participants were taken from three high schools, one church youth group, in Louisiana. The number of participants consisted of: 50 students form Carver High School in New Orleans, 50 students from Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans, 50 students from Northlake Christian High School in Covington, and 30 youth form Church of the King, a non-denominational church in Mandeville. Students in the high schools were offered bonus grade points for participation in this study. Participants from Church of the King were simply asked if they were interested in participating. All of the participants in the study were recruited by the experimenters. Materials Participants in the study initially received two consent forms. One of the forms was a parental consent form for minors and the other form was a consent form for participants to read and sign. Participants 18 years of age were not required to obtain parental consent forms. On the day of the survey, the experimenters collected the consent forms and then read the instructions printed on the top of each survey. Time was then allowed for questions from the participants. A copy of the survey instruments and the consent forms used can be found in Appendix A.Procedure The study was a correlational design, looking at the relationship between three variables. The first variable of the study was self-esteem, which was operationally defined by participant scores on the Rosenburg Self-Esteem scale, a 4-point Likert scale, consisting of ten items ranging from agrees to strongly disagree. The scores ranged from 10 - 40, 40 being the highest level of self-esteem. The second variable tested was family support. Scores on a perceived family support scale operationally defined this variable. The scores on this scale ranged from 0-20, 20 being the highest level of perceived family support and 0 being the lowest level of perceived family support. The third and final variable tested was religiosity. A score on a Religiosity Scale designed by the experimenters operationally defined this variable. The scores on this scale ranged from 1-6, six being the highest level of religiosity. To help control for extraneous variables, all participants were tested in a classroom setting. The procedures for the study were conducted in the same way and in the same order for all participants. Written consent was obtained from the principals of the high schools and from the Church Youth Leader before any contact was made with student participants. It was requested that the teachers/youth leader announce to their classes/youth groups, that a research project investigating the relationship between religiosity, family support, and self-esteem needed volunteers to participate in the study. Consent forms for parent/guardians and student participants, and information sheets providing details about the study, were distributed to be read and signed by those willing to participate.The survey took place at times selected by the teachers and youth group leaders, on weekdays and weekends between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm during the Spring 2001. Participants were tested within their classrooms. Upon arriving at the testing location (classrooms at Ben Franklin High, Carver High, Northlake High, and Church of the King), participants were seated and the two informed consent forms that had been distributed on a previous date were collected. Signed consent forms were necessary to assure researchers that minors had obtained guardian approval for study participation. The second consent form was signed by the participants to document their willingness to be participants in this study. Once the consent forms were collected, participants were handed a survey packet. A series of three questionnaires was given to the participants. They were asked not to put their names anywhere on the packet, or the papers inside. The papers and packets were assigned code numbers in order to assure confidentiality. Participants were first asked to fill out the participant information part of the survey. A copy of this can be found in appendix A. It consisted of participants providing information about their age and gender. During the next 15-30 minutes, participants completed the Rosenburg Self Esteem Scale, The Perceived Family Support Scale, and the Religiosity Scale. These tests are listed in appendix A. After the completion of the survey, the experimenters debriefed participants. During the debriefing, participants were told that this survey was looking at a correlation between religiosity, family support, and self-esteem in adolescents. They were also informed that should they have any questions or problems as a result of the survey, they should call the phone number listed on their handout from their school counselor/youth leader. After the debriefing, the participants were thanked for their participation in the study and allowed to leave.
RESULTS It was hypothesized that the results from this study would show that religiosity and family support are positively correlated with self-esteem. The results of this study did not show that religiosity correlates with self-esteem (r (91) = .124, p = .235), but did show that there is a correlation between family support and self-esteem (r (92) = .360, p = .000). The results of this study also showed a correlation between family support and religiosity (r (91) = .265, p = .010). An independent groups t test was performed comparing the mean of male self-esteem (M =33.22, SD = 4.62), with the mean of female self-esteem (M = 31.26, SD =4.93). This was found to be close to statistical significance t (92) = 1.865, p = .065, indicating that males may have a higher level of self-esteem in comparison to females. An independent t test was also performed comparing the mean of male religiosity (M =21.31, SD = 6.98), with the mean of female religiosity (M =24.69, SD = 4.61). This was found to be statistically significant, t (91) = -2.796, p = .006, indicating that females have a higher level of religiosity in comparison to males. A third independent groups t test was performed comparing the mean of male family support (M =13.66, SD = 4.84) with the female mean of family support (M=13.90, SD = 5.86). This was found to not be statistically significant, (t (92) = -.205, p = .838), indicating that there is no significant difference on level of family support for males and females. A regression analysis was done with family support and sex predicting self-esteem which had an R2 = .182 (F (2, 92) = 10.004, p< .001). Another regression analysis was done adding religion to sex, family support, predicting self-esteem which had an R2 = .188, (F (3, 92) = 6.879, p< .001). The regression analysis on family support, sex, and religiosity as an indicator of self-esteem had an F change (1,89) = 696, p = .406. This indicates that when sex and level of family support is known, religiosity does not significantly aid in the prediction of self-esteem.
DISCUSSION Discussion The hypothesis stated that there are positive correlations between an adolescent`s levels of perceived family support, religiosity, and self-esteem. While the results of this study indicated that there is not a correlation between religiosity and self-esteem, they did indicate a correlation between family support and self-esteem. This study supported the results of the study conducted by Mandara and Murray (2000). The study they conducted tested African American adolescents in family functioning and self-esteem. Results showed that good family functioning was a strong predictor of self-esteem for both males and females. Their study did not show any differences between the levels of support for males versus females support. This study differs from Mandara and Murray in the selection sample. Their study was exclusive to only the African American population. The present study sample was more of a representative sample of the entire population. This study differs from the study conducted by Donahue and Benson (1995), who found that religiousness did have a positive correlation with adolescent well-being (self-esteem) and also showed a negative correlation between religiosity and behaviors that are compatible with low self-esteem such as suicide ideation, substance abuse, and promiscuity. Donahue and Benson`s study produced results that indicated that religiosity was not something that could be explained away as a predictor of self-esteem, and that is was definitely an indicator of self-esteem characteristics, such as not participating in risky behavior. The present study, however, found no significant correlation between religiosity and self-esteem. This study did have some weaknesses. One constraint was the religiosity scale. The results of this study might have been different had we used a standardized measure of religiosity. It is hard to say whether or not the researcher-designed scale was an adequate measure of an individual`s level of religiosity. Another problem in this study was the sample. All of our participants resided in Louisiana, causing the sample to not be an adequate representation of the population of adolescents. If this study were to be conducted in other states, possibly states known for their strong religiosity such as Oklahoma and Texas, the results of this study might be different. Time constraint caused problems with this study as well. Many of the adolescents wanted to be a participant, but simply forgot to bring back their parental consent form or have it signed. If time had not been an issue, surveys could have been passed out numerous times at the different locations. This would have given all the students a chance to participate as well as improve on the sampling distribution. The results of this study do have a positive practical implication. The research results show the importance of family support. This information might encourage more family interaction, as well as encourage programs to help families in their functioning. The information in this study may also provide a more guided direction for clinical psychologists dealing with adolescent patients with low self-esteem. It is possible that this research can show clinical psychologists areas, such as family functioning and support, to focus on when dealing with patients with low self-esteem. The theoretical implication of this study is an addition to the large assemblage of information in the field of psychology. There is no end to the knowledge we can obtain about the human mind and psyche. The more we know about human feelings and emotion, as well as the situational causes, the easier it will be to develop strategies to ensure that people are emotionally and mentally healthy. The results of this study show the significant importance of family support in an adolescentís development of self-esteem. The more research that is done in this area, the more psychologists will be able to understand the root cause of self-esteem. This study focuses on family support and religiosity as a determinant of self-esteem. The information we gather on this topic allows us to determine if self-esteem is biological or situational. A possible expansion on this study could include possible biological causes of self-esteem, such as a correlation between parentís level of self-esteem and childís level of self-esteem. Further more, it would be interesting to see if there is any change in an adolescentís level of family support, religiosity, and self-esteem, as they get older. The possibility of expanding on this research is limitless. Self-esteem is a factor that affects us all. The more we know about it, the more we will know about the human psyche. Self-esteem is seen in every aspect of human life. Much of what we do as humans is a direct result of how we see ourselves. Such things as drug abuse, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, and criminal behavior have all been associated, at some level, with low self-esteem. These are major social and psychological issues that face our society today. If we continue to pursue research in the area of self-esteem, we can develop a large enough database on self-esteem. Through further research, we might learn how to counteract feelings of low self-worth, and decrease the amount of tribulations that face us daily.
REFERENCES Donahue, M.J., & Benson, Peter L. (1995). Religion and the Well-Being of Adolescents. Journal of Social Issues, 51, 145-160. Hyde, K.E. (1990). Religion in Childhood and Adolescence: A Comprehensive Review of the Research. Alabama: Religious Education Press Inc. Mandara, J., & Murray, C.B. (2000). Effects of Parental Marital Status, Income, and Family Functioning on African American Adolescent Self-Esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 14, 475-490. Mruk, C.J. (1995). Self-Esteem: Research, Theory, and Practice. New York: Springer Publishing Company Inc. Nunly, K.F. (2001 February). The Relationship of Self-Esteem and Depression in Adolescence. Help4teachers.com. Available: http://www.drnunley.com/depressi.htm Smelser, N. J. (1989). The Social Importance of Self-Esteem. London: University of California Press, Ltd. Yabiku, S.T., Axinn, William G., & Thornton, Arland (1999). Family Intergration and Childrenís Self-Esteem. The American Journal of Sociology, 104, 1494
APPENDIX A Consent Forms
Institutional Consent Form
Principle Investigators: Jennifer Thames&Rochelle JamesSponsers:Dr. Mukul Bhalla, Ph.D. & Dr. John Cornwell, Ph.D. Address: Dept. Psychology Loyola University New Orleans, LA 70118 Phone: (504) 865 - 3125
In regards to the research study titled "The Effects of Religiosity and Family support
on Adolescent Self Esteem," I have been fully informed as to what the study consists of and
what it would entail. I give my consent for Jennifer Thames and Rochelle James to use the
students in my church youth group for purposes pertaining to this study, which would include:
1. Obtaining parental consent from minors2. Administering 3 questionnaires on Self-esteem, Family Support, and Religiosity.
Name of school/church:
Principal/Pastorís name printed:
If applicable: Youth Pastorís name printed:
Youth Pastorís Signature:
Participant Informed Consent Form
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Rochelle James & Jennifer ThamesSPONSORS: Dr. Mukul Bhalla, Ph.D. & Dr. John Cornwell, Ph.D.ADDRESS: Dept. of PsychologyLoyola University New Orleans, LA 70118PHONE: (504) 865-3125
I understand that I have been asked to participate in a study researching the relationship between religiosity, family support, and self-esteem in adolescents. I understand that I will be asked to answer questions regarding my age, gender, etc. and will also be asked to fill out religiosity, family support, and self-esteem surveys. All these tasks should take no more than 20 minutes. Before giving my consent by signing this form, I have been sufficiently informedof the purpose of the study and have had the opportunity to ask any questions of the principal investigators regarding this study and my participation in this study. I understand that my identity and all information relating to me will be kept in strict confidence and that only the principal investigators will have knowledge of my identity. My name and signature as they appear on the consent form will be seen only by the principal investigators. My data will be assigned a code number that will not be associated with my name. As soon as the data are collected, all raw data will be destroyed. I understand that any public report of the results of this study will contain only summarized data, and will not contain any individual data. I understand that I may withdraw my permission at any time and that I may telephonethe principal investigators at the number given above or contact the investigators at the addresses given above in order to ask questions about my participation in the study. I understand that by providing my address, I am requesting a copy of the summarizedresults and/ or my own scores, when they become available at the conclusion of this study. I have read and understand the information given above and I sign this consentform willingly.PARTICIPANTPRINTED NAME:___________________________________ DATE:__________SIGNATURE:______________________________________ LOCAL ADDRESS:__________________________________ ___________________________________ ___________________________________
Parental Informed Consent Form
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Rochelle James & Jennifer ThamesSPONSORS: Dr. Mukul Bhalla, Ph.D. & Dr. John Cornwell, Ph.D.ADDRESS: Dept. of PsychologyLoyola University New Orleans, LA 70118PHONE: (504) 865-3125
I understand that my child has been asked to participate in a study researching the relationship between religiosity, family support, and self-esteem in adolescents. I understand that my child will be asked to answer questions regarding his/her age, gender, etc. and will also be asked to fill out religiosity, family support, and self-esteem surveys. All these tasks should take no more than 20 minutes. Before giving my consent by signing this form, I have been sufficiently informedof the purpose of the study and have had the opportunity to ask any questions of the principal investigators regarding this study and my participation in this study. I understand that my childís identity and all information relating to his/her responses will be kept in strict confidence and that only the principal investigators will have knowledge of their identity. My childís name and signature, as they appear on the consent form, will be seen only by the principal investigators. My childís data will be assigned a code number that will not be associated with my name. As soon as the data are collected, all raw data will be destroyed. I understand that any public report of the results of this study will contain only summarized data, and will not contain any individual data. I understand that I may withdraw my permission at any time and that I may telephonethe principal investigators at the number given above or contact the investigators at the addresses given above in order to ask questions about my participation in the study. I understand that by providing my address, I am requesting a copy of the summarizedresults and/ or my own scores, when they become available at the conclusion of this study. I have read and understand the information given above and I sign this consentform willingly.Participants under 18 need parent/guardian consent.I have read the above information and consent to allow my child to participatein this study.PARENT/GUARDIAN PRINTED NAME:_________________________________ DATE:__________
APPENDIX B Participant Information:Please circle your age and gender below.Age (in years): 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 Gender: Male / Female
SurveysCircle whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree witheach of these statements. Please answer all questions.1. I feel that Iím a person of worth at least on an equal plane with others.
Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
2. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
3. I wish I could have more respect for myself.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
4. I certainly feel useless at times.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
5. At times I think I am no good at all.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
6. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
7. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
8. I am able to do things as well as most other people.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
9. I feel that I do not have much to be proud of.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
10. I take a positive attitude toward myself.Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
Circle which answer best fits your religious beliefs and behavior. Please answer all questions.
11. I go to religious service(s) once a ... never day week month 6 months year
12. I would consider myself religious.Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Disagree
13. I believe in a higher power.Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Disagree
14. I speak/pray to my higher power once a ... never day week month 6 months year
15. To what extent do you live your life according to your spiritual beliefs.never seldom some often most always
The statements which follow refer to feelings and experiences which occur to most people at one time or another in their relationships with their families. For each statement there are 3 possible answers. Please circle one answer and answer all questions.
16. My family gives me the moral support I need. Yes No Donít Know
17. I get good ideas about how to do things or make things from my family. Yes No Donít Know
18. Most other people are closer to their family than I am. Yes No Donít Know
19. When I confide in the members of my family who are closest to me, I getthe idea that it makes them uncomfortable. Yes No Donít Know
20. My family enjoys hearing about what I think. Yes No Donít Know
21. Members of my family share many of my interests. Yes No Donít Know
22. Certain members of my family come to me when they have problems or need advice. Yes No Donít Know
23. I rely on my family for emotional support. Yes No Donít Know
24. There is a member of my family I could go to if I were just feeling down, without feeling funny about it later. Yes No Donít Know
25. My family and I are very open about what we think about things. Yes No Donít Know
26. My family is sensitive to my personal needs. Yes No Donít Know
27. Members of my family come to me for emotional support. Yes No Donít Know
28. Members of my family are good at helping me solve problems. Yes No Donít Know
29. I have a deep sharing relationship with a number of members of my family. Yes No Donít Know
30. Members of my family get good ideas about how to do things or make things from me. Yes No Donít Know