However, the authors do not refer to developmental psychology to illustrate their findings. The authors admit that the dimensions may not be distinguishable based solely on self-reports, and also that young children may not draw sharp distinctions among the dimensions.
Results disproved one of the research hypotheses: that between-group differences would be significant. In fact, only gender proved to be a significant variable affecting self-esteem. Blacks vs. whites and privileged vs. low-income students did not exhibit significant differences on most of the self-esteem dimensions. The most dramatic difference was between boys and girls on the athletics factor, with boys consistently reporting higher athletic self-esteem than girls throughout their development. The difference also increased with age. Girls rated themselves higher in personal character and personal responsibility than boys. The authors offer a groundless and nonsensical explanation for the findings, suggesting that “girls are given more responsibility for watching younger children than boys and are generally more conforming than boys,” (p. 312). Girls also exhibited a more positive academic self-concept in the first grade than boys did, but that difference diminishes over time. Boys and girls also diverged with regards to body image, and that divergence increased over time. By the end of the fourth grade, girls had a significantly lower self-esteem related to body image than boys did. Race was less of a factor differentiating self-concept, and social class even less so. The researchers were surprised at the similarities. In general, the evidence supporting or disproving the hypothesis was convincing given the rigors of the methods used to gather and analyze the data. The authors admit the key problems with the research include that “traditional exploratory factor analyses do not produce coefficients that have standard errors, so there is no simple way to tell whether the loading for one group (girls) is statistically significant from the loading for another group (boys),” and also that “exploratory factor analysis models are underidentified” (p. 310). In other words, the research is simply exploratory in nature and no causality can be inferred.
In the discussion/conclusions section of the article, the author may explain or speculate about the meaning and importance of his/her findings. What explanations does the author provide for his/her results or conclusions? Do you agree with them (why or why not)?
The research proved the hypothesis that children demonstrate finer distinctions in self-concept as they mature. However, structure of self-esteem does not differ among groups in as significant a way as the authors predicted. Gender remains the biggest factor differentiating groups in the area of self-esteem. The authors suggest that the cause and effect of gender differences in self-esteem may be an important area for future research. I agree with this assessment, as self-esteem in the five dimensions analyzed for this research are important for psycho-social development.
List one or two new research questions that you feel need to be answered on this topic.
1. In this research, girls athletic self-esteem was significantly lower than boys. Moreover, girls athletic self-esteem diminishes over time. Assuming that the difference is related to gender role socialization and norms, how can this gap be reduced? How can girls be more encouraged to view their athletic abilities in a more positive light?
2. Adolescence is arguably a more trying time for young people, presenting significant challenges to self-esteem. How could this research be adapted for an adolescent population? Would the dimensions of self-esteem remain the same? Would differences be more or less significant, and would they change more rapidly?
3. What role does socialization play vs. personality differences in the development and evolution of self-concept? Is the impact of socialization vs. personality more pronounced among different populations (ie. girls.