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Enhancement of Adolescents Self Esteem by Intervention


Author: Dr. Veena Dani

Professor & Head, Department of Psychology
S. N. Govt. Girls P. G. College, Bhopal-462016
drdani@rediffmail.com, veena.dani.10@gmail.com,
mobile 094250-37338

Enhancement of Adolescents Self Esteem by Intervention


Self- esteem is an evaluative component of self- concept, A person having healthy selfesteem (SE) enjoys physical and mental health (Brown et al., 1990 Rutter, 1992), higher
levels of academic achievement ( Lockett and Harrell, 2003; Wong and Watkins, 2001)
and escalated performance level (McMillan, Singh & Simonnetta, 2001).
The formation of SE and shaping of personality is of pronounced significance during
adolescent period. If adolescents are given suitable instructions/intervention during this
period; their SE levels can be elevated which will affect their personality development.
The present study was undertaken to enhance the SE level of adolescent students by
introducing an intervention module; developed by the investigator.
Initially, a purposive sample of 416 boys and 242 girls of 8th and 9th standard was taken.
The Coopersmith self-esteem inventory was administered (pre-test). Students having
low levels of SE (less than 25 percentile) were screened out and divided into
experimental and control group randomly (N=155). The experimental group was given
intervention module for 15 sessions; each session lasted for 45 minutes. At the end, the
Coopersmith self- esteem inventory was again administered on both the groups (posttest). Results are analysed with the help of t test.
Significant differences were obtained between the pre-test and post-test SE means for
experimental groups comprising of boys and girls group, boys group, and girls group. A
significant t value between the mean SE difference for experimental and control group
was also observed. These results indicated efficacy of the intervention module. On the
other hand, no significant difference was observed between the pre-test and post test
means of the control group.
Key Words: self-esteem, adolescent, enhancement


Nathaniel Branden (1969), the father of self-esteem philosophy, explains that selfesteem is the integrated sum of self-efficacy and self-respect. Sanford & Donovan
(1985) opines the self-esteem is the measure of how much we like and approve of
ourselves. In other words, self- esteem is the extent to which one approves of, values
and likes oneself. It depends on a persons attitude, and on other areas such as purpose
of life, independency, potential for success, strengths and weaknesses, social status,
and his relationships. Self-esteem partly depends upon an individuals confidence about
his skills, abilities and experiences of personal success. It also acts as a facilitator to
cope up with difficult challenges and escalates his morale to face them.
A host of studies recognize self- esteem as an important aspect of well-being
(Rosenberg, 1985). It is also considered as an indication of mental and social life
adjustment and a mediator of adaptive behaviour (Marsh, 1993). Researchers agree that
there are multiple benefits of having a positive self- opinion. It is argued that individuals
with high self-esteem are psychologically healthy and happy (Branden, 1994; Taylor &
Brown, 1988). On the other hand persons with low self-esteem are reported to be a
sufferer of psychological distress (Tennen & Afeck, 1993). A positive correlation
between self-esteem and achievement scores is reported (Covington, 1989; Gecas &
Burke, 1995). Research has shown that self-esteem is associated with many positive
achievements and social behaviour such as leadership ability, decreased anxiety, and
improved academic and physical performance (Fox, 1992).
On the other hand low self-esteem is associated with neurosis, anxiety, defensiveness,
alcoholism and drug abuse (Keegan, 1987). It is claimed that low self- esteem leads to
low life satisfaction, loneliness, anxiety, resentment, irritability, depression (Rosenberg,
1985). If people have low self-esteem, they are more likely to develop self-rejection, selfdissatisfaction and self-contempt. Chester (2005) asserted that there is a relationship
between self-esteem, emotional intelligence, academic success, and ultimate success in
life. Looking at the importance of this construct in day-to-day life, it is not surprising that
intervention strategies have been constructed by psychologists to uplift self-esteem
(Barrett, Webster & Wallis, 1999; McVey, 2004; Dalgas-Pelish, 2006; Trzesniewski et al.,
However, very few studies are targeted at adolescents, who face a very critical time
especially for formation of self-concept and self-esteem (Harter, 1999; Hirsch & DuBois,

1991; Wigfield & Eccles, 1994). Therefore, the present investigation is undertaken to
enhance the self-esteem (SE) level of adolescent students. For this purpose an
intervention module is developed by the investigator, which is independent variable of
this study, the dependent variable is level of self-esteem and organismic variable is

Whether there is a significant difference between the pre-test and post-test

means of self esteem for the experimental group?

Is there a significant difference between the pre-test and post- test SE means of
the control group?

Does any significant difference exist between the post-test mean SE scores of
the experimental and control group?

Is there any significant difference between the mean SE scores (post-test) for
boys and girls group?

The hypotheses formulated for the present investigation are as under:

There will be a significant positive difference between the pre- test and post-test
means of self esteem of the experimental group, for the boys and girls group
together, for boys and for girls (separately).

The pre-test and post-test SE means of the control group will not show any
difference to the significant extent.

The post-test SE means between the experimental and control group will differ to
the significant level, and experimental group may show greater SE as compared
to the control group.

There will be a significant difference between mean SE scores for boys and girls
group (for pre-test as well as post-test).

The initial sample is selected from two schools of Bhopal. It consisted of 416 boys and
242 girls students of 8th and 9th standard (N=658). After gauging the base level of selfesteem; the students having low self-esteem score, less than 25 percentile are screened
out. A total number of 155 students (boys=91 and girls=64) are screened out for the final
The experimental design opted for the study is pretest posttest with one experimental
(n=125) and one control group (n=30). In the pre testing condition, the initial sample
(N=658) is tested with the help of the Coopersmith Self Esteem Inventory. The students
with lower levels of SE are screened and divided into experimental and control group,
randomly. The experimental group is imparted the intervention module, whereas, the
control group received no intervention. The module comprises of 13 sessions, each of
duration of 40 45 minutes. When the intervention is over, both the groups are again
assessed for self esteem. The design, in short, is as follows:
Experimental group



-------------------------------------------Control group




Where, X1 and X3 Pre testing conditions,

X2 and X4 Post testing conditions
O Intervention Module
Coopersmith Self Esteem Inventory (CSEI): The inventory is constructed by
Coopersmith (1981). It measures self-esteem in four areas: social, academic, family and
personal. The school form of this inventory consists of 58 items. The reliability coefficient

is reported as 0.86. The validity of the test is established by computing correlation with
achievement. The coefficient is reported as 0.33 (p < 0.01).
After seeking permission of the principles, an orientation session is conducted for the
students. The need of the study and various steps are explained to them. On the basis
of the pre- test scores, the student having less than 25 percentile are screened out and
divided randomly into two groups, viz. experimental and control. The students of
experimental group are imparted the intervention module for 13 sessions. The activities
of the sessions are given below. The control group is not imparted any intervention. After
the completion of the intervention module with the experimental group, both the groups
are once again tested on the self esteem inventory; to assess the changes in their self
esteem level, if any. The scoring is done as per the instructions led down in the manual.
Higher score is indicative of high level of SE and vice-versa.
Sessions and Activities:
Session 1
Aim: To build rapport with subjects and win their confidence. Introduction and overview
of the program
Exercise 1: Icebreaker: Baggage Claim Exercise
Session 2
Aim: To create an understanding of the concept of SE.
Exercise 2: Who am I?
Exercise 3: Talents and abilities
Session 3

To generate a congenial, cooperative and healthy environment.

To accept ones strengths and limitations in equal stride.

Exercise 4: To make a list of things that they really enjoy doing.

Session 4
Aim: To develop an overview of SE.
Theoretical session: Six pillars of SE
Exercise 5: Role model
Session 5
Aim: Development of self-esteem through various tools
Session 6
Aim: Use of audio-visual inputs
Session 7
Aim: Affirmations as a strategy
Session 8
Aim: Affirmations as a strategy
Session 9
Aim: Putting the theoretical input of sessions 5 to 8 into practice
How to raise your self-esteem: Group exercise
Session 10
Aim: Generate understanding of self and modify behavior
Self-ability to rise SE
Session 11
Aim: To identify methods to raise their own SE
Session 12
Aim: To choose realistic and measurable goals Goal-setting activity

Session 13
Wrapping up: An overview of the program, feedback and suggestions
The objective of this study is to assess the feasibility of the intervention module which is
constructed to enhance self-esteem level of adolescent students. For this purpose, the
data are analyzed with the help of t test. The first hypothesis states that there will be a
significant positive difference between the pretest and posttest SE mean scores of the
experimental group. To verify the significance of the difference between means of the
experimental group, t tests are applied between pretest and posttest means of: i) boys
and girls combined group, ii) boys group, and iii) girls group. The results are depicted in
table 1.

Table1: SE means, SD, SED and t value for pretest and posttest conditions
(experimental group)

Pretest (B &G)


Posttest (B&G)
Pretest (Boys)


Posttest (Boys)
Pretest (Girls)
Posttest (Girls)






















*df=124, **df=68, ***df=55, All t values are significant at 0.01 level.

For the combined group (B+G) the means for pretest and posttest are 47.66 and 71.17,
respectively. The mean difference is 24.51. The t test for correlated group is applied to
the data, which accrues to the t value as 20.82, being significant at 0.01. Similarly for the
boys group the pretest and posttest SE means are 47.28 and 72.03. The resultant t is

25.52. For the girls group the obtained value is 11.52. All the t values are significant
beyond 0.01. Therefore, the first hypothesis of the study is accepted. To summarize the
obtained results and to give a birds eye view, all the three results are graphically
represented in figure 1.

Figure 1 showing mean SE scores of combined group, boys group and girls group in pre & post test conditions (experimental group)


Mean SE scores

Pre test

Post test




The second hypothesis states that the pre-test and post-test SE means of the control
group will not show any difference to the significant extent. For verifying this hypothesis,
t test (for correlated means) is applied to find out the significance of the difference
between means for the control group. The results are shown in table 2.

Table 2: SE means SD, SED and t value for pretest and posttest conditions
(control group)



Pre test






Post test




df = 29, *Insignificant at 0.05 level, Critical value for 0.05 level = 1.96

The mean SE scores are 53.2 and 52.07 for pretest and posttest, respectively. The
mean difference is 1.13. The t value of 0.71 is insignificant at 0.05 levels at 29 df.
Therefore, the second hypothesis of the study stands accepted.
The third hypothesis states that the post test SE means between the experimental and
control group will differ to the significant extent and experimental group may show higher
SE score. The t test, for independent samples, is applied to the data. The results are
reported in table 3.

Table 3: Means, SD, SED and t value for experimental and control group













df = 153, **Significant at 0.01 level, Critical value of t at 0.01 level = 2.33

The mean SE scores are 71.17 and 52.07 for experimental and control group
respectively. The obtained t value, 10.11 is significant at 0.01 level of significance,
indicating that the mean difference between experimental and control group is
statistically significant. Thus, the third hypothesis is accepted. The mean SE scores of
the groups (post test only) are depicted in figure 2.


Figure 2: Mean SE scores of the Experimental and Control Group (posttest)





Mean SE scores

Post test


Experimental Group

Control Group

The fourth hypothesis states that there will be a significant difference between posttest SE
scores of boys and girls group and the girls will exhibit higher SE scores. To find out the
effect of gender and to verify the hypothesis, t test for independent sample is applied.

Table 4: SE Means, SD, SED and t value for boys and girls (experimental group)













df = 123, *Insignificant at 0.05 level, Critical value for t at 0.05 level = 1.96

The mean for boys group is 72.03 and for girls, it is 70.11. The resultant t value is 1.11,
which is insignificant at 0.05 level. This implies that there is no significant difference between
the mean SE scores of boys and girls group. Therefore, fourth hypothesis is not accepted in
the present study.

The present research is aimed at developing, administrating and finding the efficacy of SE
intervention program. It is based on pre-test post-test design. Four hypotheses are formed,
and the obtained results are as under:
i) That significant positive difference is observed between the pre-test and post-test SE
means of experimental group: for boys, for girls and boys and girls combined group. All the
three t values are statistically significant beyond 0.01 levels. Therefore, it can be surmised
that there is a positive change in the SE level of the subjects belonging to experimental
group. The change can be attributed to the intervention instructions being imparted to the
experimental group.
ii) That the control group has not exhibited any significant difference between the pre-test
and post-test means.
iii) That significant difference between the post-test means of experimental and control group
is observed.
iv) That no significant difference is observed between the boys and girls group for SE posttest means.
The positive effects of the intervention module on self-esteem level of the subjects
(experimental group) became obvious to the investigator during the course of the
intervention. In the initial sessions, the subjects performed some exercises which involved
introspection and self-knowledge (exercise 1, 2 & 3). Due to lack of self-knowledge and
partly due to hesitation, the subjects could mention only a few characteristics, achievements
and talents. However, towards the end of the intervention (in session 11), where the subjects
are required to perform/prepare something they are good at; they willingly performed and
could readily mention their talents. The results point out that the intervention program has
indeed proved to be beneficial to the students; as the intervening variables, viz. age and
socio-economic factors are kept constant (as far as possible) for both the groups. The
positive effect of SE intervention module has been demonstrated by several researches in
the past (McVey, 2004; Dalgas-Pelish, 2006; Trzesniewski et al. 2006, Amudhadevi, &
Velayudhan (2007). The results of the present study are in consonance with the above
mentioned researches.
The results also indicate that there exists no significant difference in the mean SE scores for
boys and girls. These results are contradictory to the general trend in gender and selfesteem research. Most studies noted that women exhibit lower SE in general (Sanford and

Donovan, 1984; Harter, 1999). The reason can be attributed to the fast changing
psychosocial scenario of our society. During the last decade our social system has
undergone tremendous metamorphosis. The increasing rate of literacy and economic
independence among women has left a deep rooted impact on their psyche. They have their
independent thinking; they enjoy their economic independence and liberty to take their own
decisions. As a result women no longer exhibit higher suggestibility. Their self- esteem is
almost at par with menfolk. This escalated SE percolates even to the adolescent girls.
OBrien, Lietzel and Mensky (1996) suggested that gender difference is getting less
prominent day-by-day.
Self-esteem indicates the worth an individual places on himself. It has been reported in
several studies that high self-esteem accrues a lot of benefits. For example, Garmezy (1984)
and Glick and Zigler (1992) pointed out that low self esteem leads to maladjustment;
whereas, positive self-esteem actively seems to contribute to well-being. Several
researchers have demonstrated a positive correlation between academic achievement and
self-esteem (Covington, 1989; Wong and Watkins, 2001; Bankston and Zhou, 2002;
Verkuyten and Brug, 2002; Lockett and Harrell, 2003). Adams (1996) conducted a
longitudinal study and indicated that children with high self esteem have higher cognitive
The protective nature of high self esteem in prevention of psychological disorders is also
documented vastly. For example, high self esteem acts as a buffer against development of
depressive symptoms (Penninx et al., 1998). Broers et al. (1998) indicated that high selfesteem prior to surgery is related to longer survival; and a key element of mental health
(Tudor, 1999).
Above mentioned studies indicate that self esteem is the axis of a persons development.
Therefore, enhancing self-esteem can consequently lead to all round growth of an
individuals personality. Therefore, the present investigation holds a very high practical
relevance. As is apparent from the references cited above that there are very few studies
reported by Indian researchers. It deals with adolescent sample who are at the cross roads
of development of personality. Studies have found that one-third to one-half of the
adolescents struggle with low self-esteem, especially in early adolescence (Harter, 1990;
Hirsch & DuBois, 1991). A decrease in self-esteem is reported when the students move from
elementary to middle school (Wigfield & Eccles, 1994). Imparting an intervention module to
the students has proved beneficial for enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence. This in

turn may help them further to flourish in academic field. The other accrued benefits are
acquisition of a healthy disposition, better interpersonal relations and positive mental state.

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