Adolescence is a phase of physical, emotional, social variations, adjustment and development. Anxiety can impact self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and may lead to alienation. The study investigated the interrelationships among these variables on undergraduate girls and boys (40 each) between the ages of 18 and 23 years. Sinha's Comprehensive Anxiety Scale (1971), Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (1967) and Sharma's Alienation scale (1988) were used to test the variables. Significant differences were found among female college students reporting higher anxiety, self-esteem and alienation than male college students. Self esteem and anxiety were highly correlated among males and valid relation was found between alienation and anxiety. However, gender differences were found towards core coon all the constructs. Further, the study contributes to examine the social problems that are prevalent among the adolescents so that maximum can be benefited to the societal institutions and the families by providing the understanding.
Key Words: Adolescents, Anxiety, Alienation, Self-Esteem
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Department of Psychology, Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi- 110025
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Increased media attentions, prevalence of university counseling centers and enhanced awareness of the mental health needs of college going students, (Benton, Robertson, Tseng, Newton, & Benton, 2003; Rudd, 2004) marked the need to study severity of the problems which might affect the individual as he/she is at odd at self. The present study investigates the relationship between anxiety, self-esteem and alienation among male and female college students.
Anxiety is an essential and natural emotional experience. The concept of anxiety is as old as human existence. Anxiety is associated with substantial negative effects on children's social, emotional and academic success (Essau, Conradt & Petermann, 2000). An understanding for the etiology of anxiety includes multiplicity of factors such as biological, psychological and social determinants. The symptoms of anxiety among adolescents differ from individual to individual ranging from emotional, psychological as well as physical varying context wise as well impacting the daily personal life. Youth today is living in highly anxiety ridden atmosphere (Bhansali & Trivedi, 2008). A moderate level of anxiety is acceptable and varied can have effect on outcome variables, namely, self-esteem and student alienation which are considered in this study.
Self-esteem is the most researched concept in psychology (Gentile, Twenge, Campbell, 2010), its relevance to neurotic disorders is also high but it has been slightly less conclusive. It gained momentum especially when humanistic theories came into existence (Greenberg, 2008). It is believed that context plays an important role in predicting high, low or moderate self esteem. Different levels of positive and negative affect are experienced in our daily lives potentially influencing and affect human behavior, cognition, as well as social judgments or decisions (Forgas, 1995). Considering in the social arena, public consciousness, self -esteem has gained popularity more among youth (Twenge, 2006). The quality of self-esteem changes in adapting phases of life and also effected by age, gender, socio-economic status, body image, academic criteria (Crocker & Park, 2004) etc.
Alienation is a psycho social phenomenon that grows more when an individual is in high interaction and result of pervasive social environment (Brown, Higgins, Pierce, Hong, & Thomas, 2004) and might result in academic and social withdrawal. A lot of overlap in the meaning and definition and constructs are observed, however various meanings are considered and summed up in dimensions such as powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation and self-estrangement (Seeman, 1959). Alienation in adolescence may lead to behaviors such as truancy, decreased attendance, academic failure, vandalism, violence, and gang activity (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Burke Morison, 2006; Brown, Higgins, & Paulsen, 2003; Hawkins et al., 2000; Suh & Suh, 2007). The experiences of the students with regard to alienation and academic failure is quite limited as recounted by qualitative research is limited (Finn, 1996; Smith, 2000; Smyth, 2009).
There is observed multifaceted concern for the mental disturbances resulting in complex phenomenon among the college students. The context is highly prevalent as mental health among college students has received increased attention in recent years. Also students may experience challenges in the college environment as well as the reason being that adolescent is the transitory phase into adulthood. The study would provide useful insight into psychological concerns, professionals would become knowledgeable about the needs of the students, and interesting revelations about the essential links among anxiety, self-esteem and alienation could be presented in a conclusive way. Also gender is considered along the dimensions of the constructs.
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Following hypotheses were formulated based on this review and to serve the purpose of the study:
There would be a significant difference in the anxiety of male and female college students.
There would be a significant difference in the self-esteem of male and female college students.
There would be a significant difference in the alienation of male and female college students.
There would be varying relationship between anxiety, self- esteem and alienation and among female college students.
The present study is a co-relational research. The sample for the present study comprised of 80 college students (40 males and 40 females) with the age range of 18- 20 years, pursuing graduation at a Government University in New- Delhi, India.
The tools used in the present study, for measuring anxiety, Sinha's Comprehensive Anxiety Scale (1971), a 90- item questionnaire with reliability as 0.92 and validity as 0.62 having yes and no options, separately for girls and boys. For measuring self-esteem, Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI) (1967) was used. The "adult form" category was used consisting of 25 questions to be rated on the options of 'like me' and 'unlike me'. The reliability of the scale is 0.80 for males and 0.82 for females and the validity is 0.60. The student alienation scale by Sharma (1988), a 54-item questionnaire comprising of the five dimensions, namely powerlessness, self-estrangement, isolation, meaninglessness and normlessness (Seeman, 1959) was used. It is a two point likert scale, with agree and disagree options, the score on which is to be computed dimension wise as well as unitarily.
The students were randomly approached and a brief objective was given. The researcher single handedly visited the campus and the tools were administered appropriately.
The study examine difference between male and female college students on the three major constructs namely anxiety, self esteem and alienation as well as essential differences in the linkages were explored. For this, the data gathered from the sample of the study was subjected to appropriate statistical analyses namely, mean, standard deviation, "t" test and Pearson's product moment coefficient of correlation.
Table1 summarizes of the mean, standard deviation and t-values on anxiety, self-esteem and alienation among male and female college students.
Dimensions of Student Alienation
Total Student Alienation
*Significant at 0.01 level , NS- Not Significant.
Table 1 highlights the mean scores and standard deviation and t-scores on three evaluated constructs namely, anxiety, self -esteem and alienation. As can be seen, males and females differ significantly on anxiety, t (88) = 3.08, p < .01, alienation, t (88) = 0.79, p < .01. Hence, verifying the hypothesis, "there will be a significant difference in the anxiety, self esteem and alienation, among male and female college students". The third variable alienation, as can be seen from the table mentions that college-going male and female students differ significantly on student alienation as indicated by the t-value (2.85, p< .01). A perusal of Table 1 also shows that on the dimension of powerlessness, male and female college-going students did not differ significantly (t=0.37). Hence, both the comparison groups (males and females) are seen to experience powerlessness in an almost equal measure. On the dimension of isolation, male and female college-going students differ significantly. Moreover, the mean scores on this dimension of alienation suggests marginal difference between the two groups of students (Mean for Male Students=2.85; Mean for Female Students=3.5). Therefore, female students assign low reward value to goals or beliefs that are usually highly valued in a society as compared to male students. The dimension of self-estrangement, male and female college-going students differ significantly. Henceforth the findings of the present research on the dimension of meaninglessness and on the normlessness reveal that male and female college-going students differ significantly. In addition, the mean scores on meaninglessness dimension of alienation suggests marginal difference between the two groups of students (Mean for Male Students=2.85; Mean for Female Students=3.12) indicating that female college students' perception is unclear as to what they ought to believe as compared to the male college-going students. Hence, data review from table 1, validates that males and females differ significantly on total alienation experience. Thus, our study supports the first three hypotheses as mentioned which are discussed in the section below in the light of existing researches and theories.
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The study also explores the relationship among anxiety, self-esteem and alienation among males and females college students differently, for which Pearson product moment r was computed separately for both the groups. The results are presented in the table below:
The Table 2, Correlation coefficients: Anxiety, Self-Esteem and Alienation among Males and Females college students.
Lower left (darkened figures) represents correlation scores for the male college students and the upper right represents scores for female college students. *p < .05; **p < .01
The table 2 summarizes the correlation values of both males and females colleges students on various dimensions.
The coefficient of correlation between Self-Esteem and Anxiety (r=.334) is significant at 0.05 level, for male college students and the relation between these two variables (self-esteem and anxiety) is negative and in significant for female college students. Further, coefficient of correlation between student alienation and anxiety is significant at 0.01 levels and the relation between these two variables (student alienation and anxiety) is positive for both males and females. No significant relationship was obtained between student alienation and self-esteem for both male and female college students.
The results reveal that there is a marked difference among males and females on the constructs of anxiety, self-esteem and alienation. The present findings indicate that there is a significant difference in anxiety of male and female college students, the findings have been supported by a study conducted by Singh (2003), cross-cultural study by Ghaderi, Venkattesh & Sampath (2007). Gender differences on self -esteem were also significantly varying, consistent with various previous research findings (Erol & Orth, 2011). A study by Dixon & Robinson (2008) assessed that stress in college life seems to impact self esteem considerably and is related to the value one places on oneself. In a study by De Man, Gutiérrez & Becerril (2002), results of correlation analyses and analysis of covariance revealed that suicidal ideation was significantly related to level of self-esteem, but not to (in) stability of self-esteem. Student alienation differed significantly among males and females college students. Alienation can be experienced on different components on a different level; namely, powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement (Gireesan, Sananda & Sam, 1991). It is also considered that students high on alienation tend to experience increased anxiety and tension and are tolerant of deviant behaviors, like bullying, so there is an observed inter connection between anxiety and alienation (Mahoney & Quick., 2000). The process of alienation and its effect is somewhat cyclical risen from the needs and demands in the environment, for which the adolescent if fails to achieve personal understanding leads to normlessness, which in turn leads to isolation, a further lack of success, feelings of powerlessness and ultimately to alienation (Carlson, 1995).
According to Developing Adolescents Manual (APA, 2002), there are biological reasons, for varying psycho social activity. Also, gender differences are obvious among on activities involving any response to kind of stress in the environment among adolescents.
In the study, it has been observed that in case of males, self esteem and anxiety is correlated. The review of literature adds the explanation that, children having high self esteem will have an easier time handling conflicts, adjusting, resisting negative pressures, and making friends whereas anxious people experience greater self-doubts and self deprivation, as well as increased amounts of stress thereby causing greater self-confidence, this context is supported by (Sommer & Baumeister, 2002; Wray & Stone, 2005). The correlation between alienation and anxiety are found to be positive and significant for both male and female college students. Anxiety since long, has been correlated with emotionality, a lot of factors like social skills, social influence, self- concept, exam performance, adjustment and flexibility with peers and family etc. are assessed in context of anxiety and alienation. It tends to play an important role as antecedents of social alienation (Bau, Zhou & Zhou, 2006). There was no significant correlation between alienation and self-esteem. Although no studies have directly examined it, however related construct of self concepts have been studied. There has been no sharp review on the same, but self esteem is not that strongly co related with academic behaviors, or interpersonal behaviors or delinquent behaviors (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003).
Also to note that our study could not find significant relation between the total scores, the reason might be that the sub dimensions and not the whole construct of alienation maladjustment and hopelessness are negatively correlated with the self concept, parent construct of esteem (Tarquin & Cook-Cottone, 2008).
The constructs, self esteem and anxiety which has been studied with almost every aspect of social life is yet very subjective domain and essential links were found between them. Gender differences were found and valid linkages were explored between anxiety and alienation. It cannot be categorized as causal but impactful in this study. The college context and adolescent phase, where there is observed lots of variation in forming self-concept, multiple reasons can be considered for studying self-esteem, anxiety and alienation and not that it is contemporary research area. Also it might provide impetus for designing interventions and mental health awareness among adolescents.