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Effect of Low Self Esteem on Academic Performance

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Published: Wed, 07 Feb 2018


The aim of this study was to inspect the self-esteem and contingencies of self-worth used to see the relationship of students academic performance. Iqra University students (N=90) participant completed Rosenberg’s Global Self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965) and Contingencies of self-worth scale developed by (Crocker, Luthanen, Cooper, & Bourvrette, 2003). Students Cumulative Grade Points Average taken from the EDP department of university, to check those students who score high on self-esteem also have high academic results, Also checked which domain of CSW out of seven factors (Academic Competence, approval from others and virtue) are more likely students tend to invest their self-esteem. Students’ global self-esteem and CSW shows that these students academic performance was independent of their self-esteem. No matter how much students have low or high grades they have on an average healthier and good level of self-esteem. The incorporations of findings from the CSW showed that Iqra University students more likely to invest their self-esteem in the domain of virtue than any other domain; they tend to invest in this variable which is under their control and can be easily satisfy the accomplishment of self-esteem through Virtue. Other domain variables had negative or no significance relationship with students’ academic performance. Iqra University students did not shown the variables which are independent on others approval or on the control of others like, approval from others, family support etc. Research shows that these students more likely to invest in those domains which are under their control.


To Study the Impact of Self-Worth on Student Academic Performance at University Level

The conventional symbol of proficient university graduates career has been the acquisition of a ‘good’ degree, underlying by specialist knowledge, transferable and marketable skills with successful outcomes measured in quantifiable terms. At the personal level, better academic accomplishments attached are with higher self-esteem, and this is especially the case for non-traditional students. At the university level, understanding and willing to help the dispositional and emotional needs of students is important, not least because student mental health linked to success and retention rates. For this reason, university students’ whether graduation level or post graduation level are subjective interpretations of their education experiences and how this impose on very personal aspects of their lives and themselves is receiving increasing attention.

The construct of self-esteem is crucial in this debate, because it is an integral part of the self, of personal well-being and a prerequisite for educational achievement. Self-esteem is one of the important factors that help for learning outcomes. The question is how this a vital notion would be measured and analyze in university level students? The purpose of this research is to report the relationship of students’ academic performance, their level of self-esteem, the study adopted a self-worth measuring instrument, about 90 students of bachelors, and masters level from different the department of Iqra University.

The research begins with a review of the concept of self-esteem, its introduction, definition and how this has been viewed by many researchers; it will also discuss about the contingencies of self-worth, a concept which was majorly define and describe by Jennifer Crocker. Results from all the students who fill up the CSWS (Contingencies of self-worth Scale) along with Rosenberg Self-esteem scale will be taken their GPA or CGPA from examination department and will see that those students who have higher GPA like 3 or more, where these students mostly invested their self esteem.

Contingencies of self-worth also shape long-term and short-term goals. People want to prove that they are a success, not a failure, in domains of contingent self-worth, because that would mean they are worthy and valuable; in other words, they have self-validation goals in these domains (Crocker & Park, 2004). People not only need to be recognized by others but it is also an inner satisfaction through which people want to have a feeling of self-acceptance about their worth & value.

The main research question addressed was: Is there any relationship of students self-esteem with their academic performance, Is student’s high or low self esteem of a have any impact on his/her academic performance? One of the main objectives of this research is to check where university students mostly place their self-esteem in the domains of contingencies of self-worth. the research will conclude whether the high or significantly good level of self esteem of student have any positive or negative impact on his/her academic performance or there is no link in between these variables.


H1. The relationship of students’ academic performance is depended on student’s self-esteem.

H2. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of family support in the contingencies of self-worth.

H3. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of God’s Love in the contingencies of self-worth.

H4. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of Academic Performance in the contingencies of self-worth.

H5. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of Appearance in the contingencies of self-worth.

H6. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of Virtue in the contingencies of self-worth.

H7. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of Competence in the contingencies of self-worth.

H8. Students invest their self-esteem in the domain of Approval from others in the contingencies of self-worth.


The Concept of Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the most highlighted concept that is discusses not only psychological clinical situations but also one of the most research concepts in psychology. According to statistical research on Wikipedia, Self-esteem is one of the most frequent themes in psychological literature, which been used for the research in psychology. Self-esteem is continue to be one of the most generally research thought in social psychology (Wells & Marwell, 1976).

Fortunately, in recent years, a growing number of researchers have begun to incorporate additional aspects of self-esteem into their research and theories. These aspects include implicit self-esteem (Covington, 2000), contingent self-esteem (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001) and stability of self-esteem (Kernis & Goldman, 2002). In this research, the research had discussed the concept of self-esteem and the contingencies of self worth of students in the university sample. Students are future of any nation; there natural development is very vital and effective while it comes to their studies and development of these skills. The study examines the joint implications of level and stability of self-esteem for various aspects of psychological and interpersonal functioning. This research has begun by discussing some definitional and measurement issues concerning these two self-esteem components.

In clarification of the optimistic emotions and favorable beliefs are associated to the self with high self-esteem. It seems reasonable to think that people who have high self esteem fare better in terms of the objective outcomes they experience in life— that they would not only be happier but also richer, more successful, better loved, and perhaps even more attractive than low self-esteem people. Although researchers have long speculated that high self-esteem also has objective benefits, these hypothesized benefits are typically small or nonexistent (Kernis, 2006).

As (Wells & Marwell, 1976) pointed out in their important monograph, three difficulties arise out of the ubiquity of the term. First, the reliance upon common-sense definitions gives the misleading impression that different writers are referring to the same thing when they discuss self-esteem. Secondly, the assumption that everyone has an intuitive understanding of its nature hides the fact that individual theorists hold different views as to what comprises a healthy component of personality. It is a natural phenomenon for general people to think differently and have a concept of complex description and understanding as the phenomenon sound complex and un-unique with general speaking and term for daily life.

According to identity theory, the self is composed of multiple identities that reflect the various social positions that an individual occupies in the larger social structure. Meanings in an identity reflect an individual’s conception of himself or herself as an occupant of that particular position (Stryker, 1980). Self-verification occurs when meanings in the social situation match or confirm meanings in an identity. Thus, when individuals enact and verify an identity, they simultaneously produce and reproduce the social structural arrangements that are the original source of those meanings. In adopting such a position in the investigation, the research maintains the central focus on the individual within the social structure that has traditionally characterized the structural symbolic interactions position (Stryker, 1980).

Understanding of self-esteem is one issue, which still needs to be clear and require much work to be understandable for everyone. On the other hand talking about self-esteem it is also an issue that is very enlighten about its level. There are no. of researches been done for measuring the levels of self-esteem and debating on LSE or HSE have any/what impacts and benefits. Getting high self-esteem also require some cost as nothing is free or for granted. Some recent evidence suggests that high self-esteem has costs, especially under conditions of ego threat. Ego threat did not only losing of money but sometimes losing of relationships as well. How students can cope up with ego threat on the negative aspects shows their over-confident leads to lack of exam preparations or class presentation cause reduction in their marks and failure.

While research in each of the directions is extensive (Wells & Marwell, 1976), little research has been synthesized the three research streams into an overall integrated model. The theory of self-esteem integrated with the three conceptualizations within the context of structural symbolic interaction, or identity theory (Stryker, 1980). (Ervin & Stryker, 2001) began the process by discussing the links between self-esteem, identity salience, and identity commitment. The connections between the different conceptualizations of self-esteem, however, remain unclear. The research connecting the self-esteem with the contingencies of self worth and measuring with GPA scores of student’s academic performance.

In popular culture like today when people have life which not only very fast but also facing pressure from different dimensions, over 2000 self-help books, audiotapes, and childrearing manuals have been developed to enhance people’s self-esteem, with the assumption that high self-esteem (HSE) leads to a more successful, satisfying life. Having high self-esteem create difficulty is a different story but this is for sure that people having low self-esteem will definitely create problem for that person, nevertheless for him/her family too. People who find that have low value in their life, or they think like they haven’t achieve much their life and they have not much to get or work to get are having somewhere around having low self-esteem, self-concept and self-worth.

Measuring or assessment of self-esteem is not that easy, it is a very difficult concept to evaluate for research. Self-esteem is a complex psychological concept, difficult to define and challenging to assess and to research (Rosenberg, 1965). The row form of self-esteem, it is define as “the value or worth a person think he have about his self” it is the reflection of person’s value and appraisal about his self worth and value. Self-esteem is overall evaluation of persons trait about his emotions believe and perception, for example “I am a good student in general” “I have an ability to make tasty food” or “I am proud on my academic performance”.

Much self-esteem research in the 20th century focused on global self-esteem. According to (Rosenberg, 1965), the social learning theorist define self-esteem as, an individual’s global judgments about him- or herself, including levels of self-worth, self-acceptance and self-respect.

Some psychologists (Wagner & Valtin, 2004) anticipated that self-esteem was a global concept of one self, which was firm by some precise self-concepts. Self-Esteem establishes most frequently to an individual’s overall positive valuation of the self (Rosenberg, 1965).Self-esteem is the inside feeling of a person about one self whatsoever the domain of that self-esteem. Some researchers said that, the collection of two diverse magnitudes were, competence and worth (James, 1890). The competence measurement (efficacy-based self-esteem) submits to the degree though which an individual can see himself as competent and efficacious. The worth measurement refers to the degree though which an individual’s feel that they have some value and they are a persons of worth & value.

In this world of today where everybody is fighting for survival and succession in the life, people are developing their self to be more competent and successful they need to have high level of self-confident and self-esteem i.e. they must believe on their own ability that they can do whatever the environment & society is depending. During the 1990s, some psychologists claimed that self-esteem was not a global one-dimensional construct; accordingly, studies on the structure of self-esteem have become increasingly popular. Until recently, researchers believed that self-esteem was a hierarchically organized and multifaceted construct, but they did not agree on how to define the different domains. (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). Now some of the researches have demonstrated different aspects with different domains, through which people can increase their self-esteem, and eventually could decrease their self-esteem, when those domains been affected by any means these different domains were used.

Self-esteem has different levels, the highest being global self-esteem, the lowest being evaluation of specific, concrete behaviors in context and with domain self-esteem, such as academic self-esteem and nonacademic self-esteem, being somewhere in the middle. Researchers have explored the structure of self-esteem extensively using this hierarchical model. Other then these hierarchical levels there are also domains through which one can find where he/she is mostly lacking or prospering their self-esteem.

In the year 2001, (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001) proposed that self-esteem is contingent on different domains like appearance, competition, family support, perception of God’s love, approval from others, school competence and behavior, and they claimed that both global self-esteem and domain self-esteem could be classified as both a trait and a state. Trait self-esteem is relatively more of stable over time, at the same time as state self-esteem fluctuates according to the immediate circumstances or any situation that can affect the persons.

The study, deployed instrument of Contingencies of self-worth scale, which have seven factors of domain self-esteem. A contingency of domain self-esteem is the degree to which a person stakes his/her self-esteem on a particular domain or category, such that the person values himself/herself more if s/he meets his/her personal standards of success in these domains (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). It depends in what domain people based their self-esteem; those different domains have different contingencies for their self-esteem.

People differ in the contingencies of self-esteem because it all depends where they based their self-esteem (James, 1890), and a person may value multiple contingencies to varying degrees (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). Many researchers like (Crocker, et al., 2003; Crocker, 2006) have done a lot of research on domain based self-esteem conducted in 2003, demonstrated that contingency of academic self-esteem moderates the effect of success and failure events on academic state self-esteem.

The domains on which self-esteem is highly contingent, enduring events or dramatically and permanently changed circumstances would influence the level of trait self-esteem claimed by (Crocker & Park, 2004). However, these contingencies are the sort of effect, which would not replicated for trait self-esteem, and the social approval contingency did not moderate the effect of social approval from others on trait self-esteem demonstrated by (Lemay & Ashmore, 2006). High level of self-esteem often regarded as the holy grail of psychological health— the major keys of self a person can have are like happiness, self-value, self-confidence, success, and popularity. In contract to high self-esteem, low self-esteem blamed for societal problems ranging from poor educational attainment to drug and alcohol abuse.

Nevertheless, this glowing view of high self-esteem has detractors who argue that the purpose benefits of high self-esteem are small and limited (Crocker, 2006). Even though pleasant feelings, high self-worth and enhanced initiative are the producer of high self-esteem, it did not cause high academic achievement, good job performance, or leadership, nor did low self-esteem cause violence, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or becoming sexually active at an early age. Many parents, educators, and policymakers are confused, with some holding steadfastly to the idea that low self-esteem is the root of much, if not all, evil, and others concluding that self-esteem are, at best, irrelevant. Although high self-esteem did little to cause positive outcomes in life, and low self-esteem is not to blame for most social and personal problems, but some of the researcher are disagree that self-esteem is inappropriate (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). There is always a detriment of high or low self-esteems one can get.

People want to believe with the aim of they are praiseworthy and important human beings, in addition to this desire drives their behavior. Here the research suggest that self-esteem has great significance lies less in whether it is high or low, but fact of the matter is that, in what manner people judge that, they are in need of to have value and person of worth (Crocker, 2006). What the research call is the contingencies of self-worth.

Self-esteem and Contingencies of self-worth

About a century ago, William James (James, 1890) recommended that self-esteem is both a stable trait as well as an unstable state; transitory feelings of self-esteem fluctuates a person’s distinctive or trait level in response to good and bad events around him. James also noted and highlighted in his research that people are selective about what kinds of events affect their self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a belief of one person he/she hold about themselves. High self-esteem people believe they are intelligent, attractive, and popular. Nevertheless high self-esteem people acknowledge that they had flaws or made mistakes in the distant past, they see their present or recent past selves in a particularly positive light, believing they have changed for the better even when concurrent evaluations suggest they have not (Ross, 2002).

(Crocker & Wolfe, 2001) proposed that good and bad events in domains of contingent self-worth raise or lower momentary feelings of self-esteem around a person’s typical or trait level of self-esteem, and these fluctuations in state self-esteem have motivational consequences. When level of self-esteem is on higher site people feel good, and self-esteem is on lower site then people feel bad. Consequently, apart from that whether people typically have high or low self-esteem, they search for the emotional high linked with success in domains of contingent self-worth and struggle to avoid the emotional lows that accompany failure in these domains. Consequently, contingencies of self-worth regulate behavior.

Many research studies have verified that people those have high self esteem gets the benefits of having high trait self esteem. The clearest benefits are positive emotions, and certain self-concepts that accompany high self-esteem (Kernis, 2006). Self-esteem strongly related to the sentimental character of daily life, with high self-esteem people reporting happier events, feeling of successes, positive effect, less hopelessness, more life satisfaction, less anxiety, and fewer depressive symptoms as compare to people who are low in self-esteem.

In June 20, 2006, a 16-year old boy in Tokyo set fire to his house, killing his stepmother, brother, and sister. The reason for this act was. The boy was ashamed of his poor academic test performance and wanted to avoid scolded by his “results-obsessed” parents (Lewis, 2006). Although an extreme case, this example illustrates how profoundly failure can affect self-esteem, emotion, motivation, and behavior. When people fail, they may be devastated emotionally; link failure to the self, thinking “I am a failure” rather than “I failed”; and pursue goals and behaviors to alleviate the pain of failure (Park, Crocker 2004). This is not the case in everyone’s situation, however, reacts to failure in the same way. Research has reveals that people react on failure conditions according to their level of self esteem; more particularly, people those have low self-esteem (LSE) are more sensitively hurt and discouraged by failure as compare to people those have high self-esteem (HSE). People who have moderate or good level of self worth like students, are they also performing good on academic mode, whether the students did not invest their self esteem in the domain of academic competences.

However focusing on one’s strengths and minimizing one’s weaknesses often foster positive mood, optimism, and perseverance, when one’s weaknesses interfere with accomplishing important goals and can be addressed, the exaggeratedly positive and highly certain self-views of high self-esteem may be an obstacle to recognizing and addressing their weaknesses and accomplishing their goals. When people have successes, particularly students when performing well and having good GPA are also having higher score on self worth scale.

In general, it seems likely that both low and high self-esteem are helpful or adaptive in some situations, and not adaptive in others. Because low self-esteem people doubt their abilities and worry about whether others will accept them, they tend to integrate feedback from others (Brockner, 1984). These positive illusions can be helpful or unhelpful, depending on the state of affairs. the positive self-views associated with high self-esteem may be helpful for asking the boss for a raise, but interfere with understanding his feedback about areas in which one needs to improve before a raise is about to happen.

On the bases of previous research and theories, the research hypothesized that people more specifically students based their self-esteem in the domain of academic competence, when they have lower level of GPA must be having a lower score on the scale of CSWS. In the present studies, the research examined the overall self-worth of students at university level; the research also examined their results in GPA form and link with the domain of academic competence. a domain of importance and relevance to many college students (Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, & Bouvrette, 2003).and found the relationship of Academic performance have any impact on students level of self esteem or not.

Contingencies of self-worth symbolize the domains of those people who invest their self-esteem; and their success in these domains boosts self-esteem, whereas failure diminishes it (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). A daily report study of university seniors applying to graduate school showed that academic contingency predicts an increase in self-esteem on days they accepted to graduate programs and a decrease in self-esteem on days they were rejected (Crocker, 2006). Because success and failure in domains of contingencies affect self-worth, people who have contingent self-worth seek success and avoid failure in these domains to maintain or boost their sense of self-worth.

Among the seven domains of contingencies commonly identified in university students (Crocker, Luthanen, Cooper, & Bourvrette, 2003), the research focused on all the domains of self worth and hypothesized that the significantly high level of self esteem of those students also have higher GPA score when performance academically. The study also see that where university student mostly invest their self-worth in these domains of contingencies. When students are not, sure, that success is possible or failure avoided they will disengage from the task, deciding it did not matter, rather than suffer the loss of self-esteem that accompanies failure in these domains (Crocker, et al., 2002).

The Contingencies of self-worth approach extends or challenges existing models of self-esteem in several ways. Crocker & Wolfe argument on the importance of self-esteem that lies in what it is contingent upon stands in contrast to decades of research focused on whether trait self-esteem is high or low (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001). Furthermore, they did not break up the focus to whether people have low or high self-esteem in specific domains such as academics or competence, but rather symptomatic of that regardless of people’s level of domain-specific self-esteem, contingent self-worth in these domains has predictable consequences.

Although the Kernis study complementary to research that focuses on the stability of self-esteem over time (Kernis, 2006), their research also extended that work by showing that instability of self-esteem results from experiencing positive and negative events in those domains in which self-esteem is contingent. The research argues that nearly everyone has contingencies of self-worth but that people differ as to what their self-esteem is contingent happening.

Those students who based their self-esteem on top of their academic accomplishments typically have self-validation goals in this domain, viewing their schoolwork as an opportunity to demonstrate their intelligence. Because failure in domains of contingency threatens self-esteem, people try to avoid failure by increasing effort, if they are still uncertain of success, they may abandon their self-validation goal and become unmotivated, or prepare excuses that will soften the blow to self-esteem in case they fail. Basing self-esteem on external factors such as appearance, others’ approval, or academic achievement has more negative consequences than basing it on internal factors such as virtue or God’s love. And in contrast to most researchers who argue that self-esteem is a fundamental human need that people need to pursue (Stryker, 1980), Pursuing for self-esteem by attempting to prove that one is a success in domains of contingency is costly were argued by (Crocker & Park, 2004). There is always a cost for getting to improve self-esteem & those domains, which can boost your level, require different events or elements according to your domain.

When failure in domains of contingency cannot dismissed with defensive responses, self-esteem decreases. Consequently, contingencies of self-worth are both a source of motivation and a psychological vulnerability (Crocker, 2006). Making excuses or blaming others is defensive maneuvers by which people deflect the threat to self-esteem when they do fail.

In this study the research have investigated the domains in which university students commonly invest their self-esteem, including appearance, others’ approval, outperforming others, academics, family support, virtue, and religious faith or God’s love. The research indicates that contingencies of self-worth shape students’ emotions, thoughts, and behavior.

In a sample of university, students over all have high self-esteem have also higher when they have to show their performance on academic scales, the additional students pedestal their self-esteem on their academic success. The higher students’ self-esteem was on days they were admitted to graduate school and the lower their self-esteem was on days they were rejected (Crocker, et al., 2002). It is all about the event, which makes the students self esteem to affected, whether it is getting admissions, getting scores on final exams or getting feedback on their class performance.

Contingencies of self-worth are strongly related to the goal of validating one’s abilities in the domain of contingency (Crocker & Park, 2004), and students report spending more time on activities that are related to their contingencies of self-worth (Crocker, et al., 2002). People always spend time in those activities where they most found themselves worthy and feel un-worthy when they lack or failure on those domains. The research has to see & relate with the higher level of self-esteem of students with the domain academic performance of contingencies of self worth.

All the educational achievements at university level are measures on GPA bases. GPA is the ultimate result that reflects the students’ attention on his/her academics. When students based their self esteem in the domain of academic competence/performance then their score in the CSW scale must be high and those who base their self esteem on academics they contingent their self esteem by knowing and upgrading their learning ability and increase their academic performance. One of this research’s important variables is students GPA.

Academic achievements measured by students’ results in form of grades, percentages and Grand point assessments. Student’s results are depending of many elements but classroom environment and facilitation for learning are the core elements, which are subject to university or institute. Nonetheless, the abilities like mentions above about cognitive learning have to contribute to students’ performance and it is most important for those people who based their self-esteem in the domain of academic competence, and it is highly depended on students’ learning attributes and academic environment that ultimately lead to healthier academic self-esteem.

Self-esteem is collective of many attributes and component, one of them is person is itself, the image they carry about perception they thing people have for them in their minds. The self-worth theory of achievement motivation suggests that people are motivated to construct an image of them as competent to maintain and enhance their self-esteem (Covington, 2000). Researcher also comment on the situation in which their findings had shown that students whose self worth is contingent on academics tend to adopt achievement goals focused more on performance than on learning.

There is another group of students out general people, who base their self esteem on their appearance and approval of others, in this case most of the time students not much focus on their academic results, they try to invest more on their looks, clothes and appearance. Any researches had work on it and propose many conclusions reveals findings. Along these lines, the research propose that constructing an image of the self as competent may involve not only seeing one as competent but also ensuring that others perceive and acknowledge one’s competence. Another term for this idea is self-presentation— people’s attempts to create, modify, or maintain an impression of the self in the minds of others. Like many other people who focus and define self-presentation goal as an effort to convey a desired image of one to others students also involve in creating they self-presentation to make an image to your viewpoint.

Crocker & Wolfe anticipated that people with LSE would show negative responses to failure, but only if they stro

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