Measuring levels of self esteem in two parent and
single parent families
Self-esteem refers to a person’s subjective positive or negative appraisal of oneself (Sedikides & Gregg 2003). Research has found that being a parent from two parent family improves self esteem levels (David, H 1987). The current study aims to investigate this relationship using the Rosenburg self-esteem questionnaire. The test recruited 40 participants, 20 from two parent families and 20 from single who each completed the questionnaire. Data analysis found that although there is a small relationship between the two, the effect is not large enough to support the findings by H, David. The implications are important in terms of parenting and it may be interesting to investigate whether employment status has an impact and how much this affects their children.
Measuring levels of self esteem in two parent and single parent families
Self-esteem or self-worth refers to a person’s subjective appraisal of himself or herself as intrinsically positive or negative (Sedikides & Gregg 2003). Sedikides and Gregg also stated that self-esteem involves both self-relevant beliefs and associated emotions and finds expression in behaviour. In addition, self-esteem can be construed as an enduring personality characteristic (trait) or as a temporary psychological condition and may be specific to a particular dimension ("I believe I am a good writer, and feel proud of that in particular") or global in extent ("I believe I am a good person, and feel proud of myself in general"). The term "self-esteem" was first coined by William James in 1890 (www.psychologytoday.com). One of the oldest concepts in psychology, self-esteem is the third most frequently occurring theme in psychological literature (Rodewalt & Tragakis 2003). Given such a long and varied history, it is not surprising to find that many theoretical perspectives have their own definition of self-esteem. Three major definitions exist, each of which has generated its own research, findings, and practical applications. The original definition by William James sees self-esteem as a ratio of successes compared to failures in areas of life that are important to a given individual, or that individual’s "success (to) pretensions" ratio (James 1890). Albert Bandura in his theory of social learning developed the concept of "self-efficacy" which is similar to this concept of self-esteem.
The next being developed in the mid 1960s by Morris Rosenberg a social-learning theorists, she defined self-esteem in terms of a stable sense of personal worth or worthiness, (see Rosenberg self esteem scale fig4). This became the most frequently used definition for research, but involves problems of boundary-definition, making self-esteem indistinguishable from such things as narcissism or simple bragging.
The third, Nathaniel Branden in 1969 briefly defined self-esteem as "...the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness". This two-factor approach, as some have also called it, provides a balanced definition that seems to be capable of dealing with limits of defining self-esteem primarily in terms of competence or worth alone. Branden’s (1969) description of self-esteem includes the following primary properties:
A: self-esteem as a basic human need, i.e., "...it makes an essential contribution to the life process", "...is indispensable to normal and healthy self-development, and has a value for survival." B: self-esteem as an automatic and inevitable consequence of the sum of individuals' choices in using their consciousness. C: something experienced as a part of, or background to, all of the individuals thoughts, feelings and actions. Self esteem is a concept of personality, for it to grow, we need to have self worth, and this self worth will be sought from embracing challenges that result in the showing of success. (http://www.growing-self-esteem.com/definition-of-self-esteem.html)
High self-esteem is a positive opinion of oneself whereas low self esteem is a negative opinion of oneself. Low self esteem feeds your negative thinking and causes you to believe the criticism others make of you. This can cause you to lose confidence so it is vital to end negative thoughts if you want to build your self esteem. High self-esteem is the opposite of the above and means you will be confident, happy, highly motivated and have the right attitude to succeed. (Cassel, E and Berstein, A Douglas,2007, pg 97) Self esteem is crucial and is a cornerstone of a positive attitude towards living. It is very important because it affects how you think, act and even how you relate to other people. It allows you to live life to your potential. A nuclear family is the term used to simply define a wife/mother, husband/father and their children. A single parent family is a family were a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a larger household, without a spouse or partner. Single-parent families are families with children under age 18 headed by a parent who is widowed or divorced and not remarried, or by a parent who has never married. (Sociology class notes) There are many sites about single parents and how living in that life style can affect a child’s self-esteem, but there are not that many that look at the parents self esteem. One that was cited on a page in www.parentingrc.org does look at the single parent and the effects it may have on them. With this in mind, it is important that more research is done on the parents and how self-esteem affects them. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether self-esteem levels of a single parent would be significantly lower than that of two parent family.
There will be no difference in levels of self esteem between parents from single parent and two parent families.
Single parents will have a significantly lower self-esteem than that of a parent who is part of a couple.
The participants for this experiment had to fit into 2 separate categories. The first would be that they had to have a child or children, and the other is that they were either a single parent or part of a couple. There were 40 participants chosen in total; 20 single parents and 20 parents in a couple. Opportunity sampling was used by asking individuals in the college library, the remainder were amongst close friends and family. Basic demographic information was collected, including age and gender however, this information did not play any part in the experiment. All participants were asked to sign a consent form and were also offered the opportunity to view their own results after it had been marked. Measures and Apparatus
(RSS) (Appendix A)
The Rosenberg self esteem questionnaire was used to measure self esteem (Rosenberg, M. (1965).This is a 10 item questionnaire which has been found to have high reliability and good validity (http://www.doorway-to-self-esteem.com/rosenberg-self-esteem-scale.html). The level of self esteem was assessed in by a complete score of 0-15 for low self esteem and 15-25 for high self-esteem. The researcher used 40 copies of this questionnaire, information sheets (Appendix B), consent forms (Appendix C) and a pen.
The researcher used an independent group questionnaire design. The independent variable is whether or not the participant was a single parent or part of a couple and the dependent variable is the level of self-esteem. Procedure
Participants were gathered using opportunity sampling in the college library as well as recruiting family and friends. Participants were asked to attend college where they were seated and presented with the self esteem questionnaire (which). Before testing began, participants were asked to read the information sheet to ensure they completely understood what would happen and were reminded that they were permitted to withdraw from the experiment at any time. They then began to fill in the questionnaires. When complete, the questionnaires were collected and marked and scored. Data analysis then commenced. Results
Appropriate statistical analysis of the data was completed to assess the hypotheses. GRAPH
Figure 1. Self esteem of parents from two parent and single parent families.
This graph shows that single parents have a slightly lower score than parents in a couple. The mean score also supports this evidence as for single parents it is µ12 and for a parent part of a couple it is µ16.
The median supports this at 13 for single parents and 17 for parents from two parent families. The range was 17 which shows the distribution of the sample was high. The results show that there is a difference in self-esteem between the two types of families. Single parents on average do have lower self-esteem but not such the massive difference as was expected. Discussion
The aim of the study was to show that single parents will have a significantly lower level of self-esteem than parents that are part of a couple. Although the results do show that there is a difference and that they indeed have lower self-esteem, the results were not as was expected as the difference was a lot smaller. The researcher expected the majority of single parents to have lower levels due to the emotional implications put upon them by being alone. The feeling of loneliness, isolation and the sheer frustration of having to do everything alone, and not being able to focus on themselves but dedicating all of their time and their whole world on their children, would have surely had an effect on their self-esteem. There are a few things that may have affected the results of this experiment. As self esteem is a sensitive topic for many people it is possible that some participants may have answered according to what is considered socially acceptable. Many people may feel uncomfortable revealing whether they have a high or low opinion of themselves. The results may have also been subject to participant bias as they may have answered in the way they thought the researcher might have wanted them to. If this experiment was to be repeated in the future the appropriate changes would be made. The revelations of this study have shown that with all the other research being done regarding a child’s self-esteem being in a single parent family, it is of equal importance that research is done on the effects to the parent as well. Having only one parent will affect a child’s self-esteem, but what about the parents and the psychological effects it might have on them. An interesting discovery was that parents, single or not, who were in full time employment or education seemed to display higher levels of self esteem than expected. This may due to them having something of their own and a feeling of self worth. In future, it may be worth studying this effect further as the implications are important in terms of parenting. The effect that this has on the children may also be worth investigating to find whether this has a positive or negative effect on their self esteem.
Scores are calculated as follows:
• For items 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7:
|Strongly agree = 3 |
|Agree = 2 |
|Disagree = 1 |
|Strongly disagree = 0 |
• For items 3, 5, 8, 9, and 10 (which are reversed in valence): |Strongly agree = 0 |
|Agree = 1 |
|Disagree = 2 |
|Strongly disagree = 3 |
The scale ranges from 0-30. Scores between 15 and 25 are within normal range; scores below 15 suggest low self-esteem.
The Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale is a short questionnaire that gives you a quick, thumbnail sketch of your level of self esteem. It takes 5 minutes to complete. The results of this questionnaire will reflect back to you your own beliefs about your self esteem. Answer as honestly as possible
Because it is a self-report questionnaire (you fill in the answers about yourself) and the questions are fairly simple and transparent you can easily manipulate the result to get the answer you wish for. (Try it and see). With these types of questionnaires the accuracy of the result depends on your sincerity and level of self awareness. If you answer sincerely and have an accurate image of yourself, then the results will reflect your real level of self esteem. If you are motivated to answer in a particular way (positive or negative) because of who will see your results, or if your self image is not accurate, then the end result might not reflect your actual level of self esteem, but rather what you believe to be your level of self esteem. If you wish to pull out of the experiment at anytime please do so. If you have any problems regarding this study please contact Mrs Gwyneth Bonnet at Coleg Menai. 01248 370125
I________________, agree to participate in this study on self-esteem. I understand that I am able to pull out of the experiment at anytime. I also understand that none of my personal information will be kept and that it will all be destroyed once the experiment has reached an end.
Rosenberg, M.(1965).Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Cassel, E. and Berstein, Douglas A(2007), Criminal Behaviour.2ND Edition, NewJersey, LawrenceErlbaumAssociates,Inc
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