INTRODUCTION Researchers have been studying self-esteem for decades. It is quite clear that there are important individual differences in self-esteem, and that these differences can be measured in a reliable and valid way. It is also clear that self-esteem is one of the central, most important aspects of the self-concept. Many psychologist believe self-esteem is dependent on social interaction and family relationships (Baumiester, 1993). Research proves that low levels of self-esteem lead to child abuse, battery and even suicide (Baumiester). What are other causes of levels of self-esteem? Who has low levels of self-esteem? Adler (1997) believes there is very little to no relationship between your social class (or parents social class) and your self-esteem level. Research explains that friends make us feel good and increase our level of satisfaction with the world and our place in it (Aiken, 1998). The extent to which people are satisfied with their lives can be predicted from friendships rather than family, according to Aiken. It is also shown that a lack of friendship and other positive social relationships is associated with psychological problems and disorders, low academic achievement and a lack of job success. Lack of self-esteem is a serious problem amongst college students, but it may also affect the student’s ability to perform well in class. Aiken believes poor academic achievement may also decrease a student’s self-esteem. Researchers like Thombs (1995) agree with the findings of Aiken. Thombs also believes academics and self-esteem are related and students with low levels of self-esteem were more likely to have problem behavior and grades than those students with higher levels of self-esteem. The students with lower levels of self-esteem showed problems with alcohol consumption, poor time management, poor study habits and self-defeating behavior (Thombs). Researchers have gone a step further and found that self-esteem levels give insight to a student’s academic motivation, SAT scores and grade point averages. The question still remains “Which group of students tend to have healthy levels of self-esteem?” In trying to answer this question, Smith & Tyler (1997) compared Greeks and non-Greek students. According to the social identity theory, people prefer to belong to positively valued groups or social categories because positive social identities contribute to more general feelings of self-worth. People are more likely to join groups that are appealing to improving their social stature and giving them a since of pride and respect. The social identity theory explains that membership in a negatively valued or “low status” group should be related to low personal self-esteem. Another factor is the potential importance of one’s position within a group may influence self-esteem (Smith & Tyler, 1997). Within the Smith and Tyler study, pride and respect reflected social identities and people who felt proud or well respected were more likely to endorse or engage in-group behavior. Other research, like that done by Scott (1965), found that persons in Greek letter organizations liked other persons in Greek letter organizations better than “individuals”. Scott surveyed pledges of Greek organizations throughout their pledge process on their attitudes toward other pledges. Within his questionnaire the participants were asked to rate their pledge brothers on leadership, respect, and their overall attitudes toward their pledge brothers. This longitudinal study continued until the pledges were full fledged members of the organization and found the levels of respect and pride in themselves and their pledge brothers increased once the pledges became full members. Scott also found persons in Greek letter organizations have higher levels of loyalty, academic achievement, social skills, physical development, and “status” than persons who are “individuals”. Bledsoe, Brown, Goldstein, Goyen, Rounds, Street, Winston, and Wisbey (1997) found supportive evidence of this fact. They used eight scales to measure different aspects among four organizations on the college campus. The scales measured rewards, purposes, structure, helpful mechanisms, relationships, leadership, external and institutional support. A highlight of this research was that sororities scored highest on the reward scale; meaning sorority members perceived the organization as having high visibility, and a positive self-image on campus. Bledsoe also believes involvement in extracurricular activities, especially holding leadership positions in student organizations, has a direct positive effect on students social concepts. These extracurricular activities consisted of Greek membership, student government and programming organizations, and academic organizations. This study observed students during and after college to determine their levels of self-esteem and motivation. It concluded that students extracurricular involvements are positively related to the completion of a bachelor’s degree, entrance into graduate or professional schools and attaining their doctorate. To further support the idea of Greek involvement leading to academic and post academic success, Brand and Dodd conducted a study in 1998. The researchers surveys includes those of college men from freshmen to seniors, Greeks and non-Greeks. Using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (and eight demographic items), these researchers found that Greek men had higher levels of self-esteem than non-Greek men. Unfortunately, there is very little research done on sororities and Greek life in general to make a firm correlation to self-esteem and grade point averages. The above mentioned studies have established a relationship between self-esteem, social interaction and/or participation in extracurricular activities. This research even links extracurricular activities to academic success. Unfortunately, the past research is not conclusive in relating self-esteem, to academic achievement amongst college undergraduates who participate in Greek life. This study explained whether participation Greek life organizations had an influence on self-esteem and grade point averages (GPA) of college undergraduates. Thus, the independent variable was Greek life participation and the dependent variables were GPA’s and self-esteem. Based on previous research it was hypothesized that members of Greek life organizations would have higher levels of self-esteem and higher GPA’s than persons who were not in Greek life organizations.
Surveys on pride and self-esteem levels were given to 100 Loyola University students. Of these students, 50 were members of Greek life (25 male, 25 female) and 50 were non-Greek life members (25 male, 25 female). The 50 males and 50 females were between the ages of 18-23 and volunteered to participate. This study consisted of convenience and quota sampling. Students were recruited for the study through psychology faculty announcing a study on pride levels of Loyola University students to their classes. These students signed-up for the study for additional credit. There was a sign-up booth outside the student center where interested students signed-up to complete the study at scheduled times. There was also a campus e-mail and interested students replied, if volunteering for the study.
Participants signed two informed consent forms explaining the meaning of the study and the duties they are expected to perform. One form was for the participant to keep and the other form was for the experimenter. The demographic questionnaire asked for age, sex, major, year of college, if affiliated with Greek service or social organization and GPA. This study used two different questionnaires: The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965) and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale (1981). Extensive and acceptable reliability (internal consistency and test retest) and validity information (convergent and discriminant) exists for the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). The Rosenberg 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 for each high self-esteem answer the student receives a point. Participants who scored between one and four were considered to have low levels of self-esteem, while persons who scored between eight and ten were considered to have high levels of self-esteem. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale was compiled with scores ranging from 120 to zero. Zero to 45 represents low self-esteem while 90 to120 represents very high self-esteem. Each participant answered these brief statements dealing with self-esteem and how much they agree or disagree with the statements. Acceptable reliability and validity information exists for the Coopersmith scale and the test has internal consistency and validity. Questions one through six were demographic questions. Questions seven through forty-seven were scored. Questions seven through sixteen (Rosenberg Scale) received up to one point each, while questions seventeen through forty-seven (Coopersmith Scale) were worth one to four points each. The two questionnaires were not combined and the results from each questionnaire were compared.
DESIGN AND PROCEDURE
This was a quasi-experimental study, employing a single variable between subjects design. The independent variable (IV) was Greek life participation with the levels of the IV consisting of participation in Greek life, or non-participation in Greek life. The dependent variables (DV) were GPAs and self-esteem measured by the Rosenberg and Coopersmith Self Inventory Scales. The controls for this experiment consisted of having all participants take the study in the same room at scheduled times to exclude extraneous variables such as noise. Students were made aware of the study through psychology faculty announcing a study on pride levels of Loyola University students to their classes. These students signed-up for the study for additional credit. There was a sign-up booth outside the student center where interested students signed-up to complete the study at scheduled times. The sign-up sheet had space for interested students to provide local phone numbers which were used to contact and remind them of their scheduled times. There was also a campus e-mail and interested students replied, if volunteering for the study. Participants were seated comfortably in the conference rooms on campus. They were told they had 30 minutes to answer the questions exploring attitudes and pride levels of Loyola University New Orleans students and their identity would be kept confidential. The participants signed two consent forms; one copy for their records and the other copy for the experimenter kept. The participants answered the questionnaire and were debriefed on the experiment. Once they finished they were given the option to have a freshly delivered slice of pizza and were excused.
RESULTS This study did not significantly support the hypothesis that participants of Greek organizations had higher levels of self-esteem than non-Greek persons. An independent groups t-test was performed comparing means for self-esteem using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale for Greeks (M = 8.380, SD = 1.839) and non-Greeks (M = 8.740, SD = 1.426). This was found not to be statistically significant t(98) = 1.094, p = .277. An independent groups t-test was performed using the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale comparing means for self-esteem amongst Greeks (M = 93.1600, SD = 12.0414) and non-Greeks (M = 91.5400, SD = 14.8616). This was also found not to be statistically significant t(98) = -.599, p = .551. An independent groups t-test was performed comparing GPA of Greeks (M = 3.2388, SD = .4565) and non-Greeks (M = 3.0168, SD = .4292). This was found to be statistically significant t(98) = 2.505, p = .014. This indicates Greeks have higher GPA`s than non-Greeks.
DISCUSSION This study does not support the hypothesis that persons in Greek organizations have higher levels of self-esteem. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale indicates the self-esteem scores of Greeks (M = 8.38) compared to non-Greeks (M = 8.74) are almost the same and their average scores are within the range of high levels of self-esteem.The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Scale indicates the self-esteem scores of Greeks (M = 93.16) compared to non-Greeks (M = 91.54). Although Greeks scored slightly higher on this scale, it was not a significant difference amongst the groups. Both Greeks and non-Greeks average scores were in the range of high levels of self-esteem. This study does support the hypothesis that Greeks (M = 3.24) have higher GPAs than non-Greeks (M = 3.02). Scott (1965) also agrees that Greeks excell in academics. Scott (1965) found that persons in Greek letter organizations have higher academic success than “individuals” or non-Greeks. To support the hypothesis that Greeks excell in academics even further, Bledsoe et al. (1997)found that involvement in extracurricular activities in college had a positive correlation to the completion of a bachelor’s degree and continuing to graduate, professional or doctorial degrees. The extracurricular activities in Bledsoe`s et al. (1997) study included being involved in Greek organizations. A closer examination of the data showed that there was an overwhelming number of sophomores (38) and a small number of senior (18) participation. The misrepresentation of the student population may have affected the results of this study. Also, many students who were recruited for this study were in freshman and sophomore level psychology classes, accounting for the misrepresentation of the student population. Also, most Greeks join their organizations in their sophomore or freshman year, leading to the misrepresentation of the Greek population as well. By having more sophomores participate in the study, the results are heavily weighted for members of the sophomore class as opposed to every level of undergraduate students. Another factor that may have affected the validity of this study was the small sample size. A larger sample from numerous schools would increase the validity of this study and the results can be applied to more academic settings. The results of this study show Greeks do better in school and this may be because Greek life participants enroll in many of the same courses and use those classes as a sense of mutual support. The Greeks may help each other with homework or help study for upcoming tests. This time spent with each other may increase their Greek bonds (brotherhood/sisterhood) but also increase their aptitude. This behavior of Greek participants lead them to higher academic success. These results banish the negative stereotypes of Greeks and may lead to an increased number in Greek participation. More college students will be inclined to join an organization that may increase their academic sucess.Their success will lead to more students having higher GPA`s and an overall increase in college students aptitude levels. I propose a study to test if a student is more inclined to join a Greek orgainization if the student believed being in that organization would increase their GPA? Also, the relationship between class status and Greek status within this study encourages this research to go a step further. A new study that tests if the year in college (freshman, senior) and Greek status affects levels of self-esteem should be done. It would also be interesteing, to see if research between different Greek organizations (social or service) showed different levels of self-esteem. Although research compared Greek participants to non-Greek participants had been done in the past, researchers still have a long way to go. There are many different aspects of the Greek participant psyche that can be studied and measured. It is our job as researchers to explore different avenues of research amongst these individuals.
REFERENCES Adler, N. (1997). Self-Esteem. John, D. and Catherine, T. MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health.http://www.macses.ucsf.edu/Research/Psychosocial/notebook/self-esteem.html.#Health. Aiken, L.R. (1998). Human Development in Adulthood. New York, NY: Plenum Press. Baumeister, R.F. (1993). Self-Esteem: The Puzzle of Low Self-Regard. New York, NY: Plenum Press. Bledsoe, T., Brown, S.R., Goldstein, A.R., Goyen, K.D., Rounds, L.E., Street, J., Winston, R.B., Wisbey, M.E. (1997). Describing the Climate of Student Organizations: The student Organization Environment Scales. Journal of College Student Development, 38, 417-427. Brand, J.A., & Dodd, D.K. (1998). Self-Esteem Among College Men as a Function of Greek Affiliation an Year in College. Journal of College Student Development, 39,611-615. Coopersmith, S. (1981). The antecedents of self-esteem. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton, NJ. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press. Scott, W. A., (1965). Value and Organizations. Chicago, IL: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. Thombs, D.L. (1995). Problem behavior and academic achievement among first semester college freshmen. Journal of College Student Development, 36, 280-288.
Self-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 4 518. 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 4 524. I deserve to be loved and respectedStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 525. 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 4 526. 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 4 527. Being myself is a guarantee that people will dislike meStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 528. 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 5
30. 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 4 531. I could disappear from the surface of the earth, and nobody would noticeStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 532. 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 4 534. 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 4 538. 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 4 546. I will never be as capable as I should beStrongly disagree Disagree Somewhat agree Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 3 4 5