The self-esteem of black university students
Howcroft, John Gregory
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The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the effectiveness (representativeness) of a variety of instruments that are intended to measure the level of global and specific dimensions of self-esteem, and the level of defensiveness amongst Black university students. The literature review emphasized: (a) the lnconclusiveness .of the operationalization of self-esteem; (b) the neglect of the dimensions of self-esteem; (c) the paucity of attempts at cross-method convergence; (d) the neglect to specify the measurement context; (e) the inattention being paid to the role of defensiveness on self-report measures; and (f) the paucity of research into Black self-esteem in this country. Following the literature review, of Black students. were tested. a number of hypotheses were tested among groups A total of 430 first year full-time students. A major purpose of the research was to determine the effect of specific measurement· contexts upon self-esteem and defensiveness. Using Levene's variance-ratio test, the results indicated that different measurement contexts produced no significant differences between groups with regard to measures of global and the dimensions of self-esteem. However, the results revealed significant differences between groups with regard to measures of defensiveness. A further purpose of ".he research was to descriptively illustrate the characteristics of self-esteem with regard to measures of central tendency. The data. revealed that Black university students possess a moderately positive level of global self-esteem, and a mar.kedly elevated level of academic self-esteem. The data also indicated that those groups who had been exposed to a measurement context with inherently greater demand characteristics revealed a higher level of defensiveness than those groups who had been exposed to a context with fewer demand characteristics. A third purpose of the research was to examine the intercorrelations of various measures of self-esteem and defensiveness in order to identify the most "representative" measurement procedures respectively. The results indicated that Coopersmith's Self-Esteem Inventory (a measure of global self-esteem), Brookover's Self-Concept of Ability Scale (a measure of academic self-esteem), and Marlowe-Crowne's Social Desirability Scale (a measure of defensiveness) possessed the highest levels of cross-method convergence. A fourth purpose of the research was to examine the relationship between self-esteem and defensiveness. The results revealed a highly significant correlation between self-esteem and defensiveness. Finally, the data of a post-hoc analysis partly confirm that personality traits as measured by standardized South African tests appear to be significantly related to measures of global and academic self-esteem and defensiveness. In conclusion, it is suggested that further cross-method studies of self-esteem be conducted in South Africa within and across different ethnic groups, and serious attention be paid to the use of more than one modality of the measurement of self-esteem.