Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jerry Cohen

Abstract

Since James (1890) introduced the psychological importance of the self, researchers have continued to debate several issues concerning self-concept and self-esteem. This study examined the ratings of multiple domains of self-concept, the importance of those domains, ratings of general self-concept, and self-esteem of 691 students from a North East school district in grades 4, 8, and 12. Students were chosen to represent three developmental levels: preadolescence, early adolescence, and late adolescence. All students completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, a form of the Harter Self-Perception Profile and its accompanying importance ratings. Significant age and gender differences in the ratings were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA design. The three-way interaction of Grade by Sex by Self-Concept Domain was found to be significant, indicating differences between males and females in athletic competence, physical appearance, and behavioral conduct at each of the three grade levels. When specific domains were examined, many of the gender differences in ratings of competency were in the direction of gender stereotypes. Significant Grade by Domain and Sex by Domain interactions of importance ratings were also found. Gender differences were found in global self-worth and self-esteem, with males consistently reporting higher ratings. Significant grade differences were also found in ratings of global self-worth. However, the predicted U-shaped trend in ratings of self-esteem was found tor female participants but not tor males. When domain and importance ratings were used in linear regression models to predict global self-concept and self-esteem, importance ratings were not found to reliably increase the p1redictability of either global measure. However, ratings of physical appearance were found to significantly predict global measures at each developmental level. Implications and possible interventions are discussed.

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