Self-esteem is defined as the positive or negative feelings that we have about ourselves. It can also be seen as the measurement of confidence in our own abilities. More positive feelings in ourselves have been found to be correlating with higher self-esteem and more negative feelings about ourselves correlating with lower self-esteem. One can usually experience positive feelings of high self-esteem when there is a strong belief that they are “worthy” and “good” and that other people also view them in these positive ways. An individual can experience low self-esteem, which is associated with the negative belief that they are less worthy than their peers and are greatly inadequate.
I believe one’s self-esteem can be determined by many contributing factors, these include, how well that individual views their appearance as well as their own performance, as well as how satisfied they are with their relationships with others in their lives. Self-esteem can be considered in part a personal trait that is usually stable throughout that individual’s life span, with some individuals having relatively high self-esteem compared to others and the rest having a lower self-esteem. However, self-esteem is not static and is more of a dynamic trait. It is a state that can vary from day to day and even hour to hour and from situation to situation. What do we do when we have completed and succeeded at an important job, when we have done something that we deem to be useful or important, or even when we feel accepted or valued by the people around us? We evaluate ourselves based on those abilities and produce our own self-concept that will contain accumulated positive thoughts from all of those experiences equally. and we will then have produced a high self-esteem in ourselves. However, if these same situations had produced the opposite effects, let’s say we hadn’t succeed an important job, or done something useful, or are not values or accepted by the people around us, we start to have the belief of failure, that we have done something harmful, or even begin to feel that we have been criticized or ignored by the people around us, producing the opposite negative beliefs that tie into a self-concept that we are more ashamed of and ultimately experiencing low self-esteem.
Social psychology is all about understanding individual behavior in a social context. It can be defined as, a scientific field that looks for ways to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations’ It therefore looks at human behavior as influenced by other people and the social context in which this occurs. Social psychologists are people who deal with the factors that lead us to behave in a given way in the presence of others, and they look at the conditions under which certain behavior/actions and feelings take place at a given time. Social psychology has to do with the way these feelings, thoughts, beliefs, intentions and goals are constructed and how such psychological factors ultimately influence our interactions with others.
For my individual assignment, I will be making the connection between these two important criteria to the human world, that is, social interactions and self-esteem. I will be discussing five research articles and their findings on the influences between the two as well as the methods and experiments conducted to come to a conclusion of whether or not there is an influence between the two and what exactly some of those influences are. I will also discover this influence from a social psychologist’s standpoint.
My first empirical psychology article titled, “The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies”, the question of whether having close friends can boost an individual’s self-esteem, or does having high self-esteem influence the quality of your friendships, was asked. According to a meta-analysis of over two decades of research, published by the American Psychological Association, both are true. They now have a systematic answer to a very important question in the field of self-esteem research. This question being, whether or not and to what extent a person’s social relationships influence his or her self-esteem development, and vice versa, and at what exact ages this influence can be found to take place. It is believed that the answer to what age groups, is that this influence takes place all along an individual’s life span. (Harris et al., Ulrich et al. 2019).
The research on this topic was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Harris and her co-author, Ulrich Orth, PhD, of the University of Bern, were able to analyze 52 studies including more than 47,000 participants (with 54% of those participants being female). They were looking at the effect of self-esteem on social relationships over time or the opposite effect. These studies were all published between 1992 and 2016 and included multiple countries (these include 30 samples from the United States, three from Germany, two from Australia, four from Switzerland, Russia, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Canada, and Sweden). Participants were 60% white, 19% mixed ethnicities, 12% predominantly of another ethnicity, and 2% Hispanic/Latino. Their ages ranged from early childhood to late adulthood. It was found that positive social relationships, social support and social acceptance helped shape the development of self-esteem in people over time between ages 4 and 76. Also found was a great effect in the opposite direction. Even though earlier research had produced inconsistent findings, the meta-analysis supported the classic theories on the influence of self-esteem on social connections and the influence of social connections on self-esteem. These findings were also found to be the same after accounting for the participants gender and ethnicity. It is believed that the reciprocal link found between self-esteem and social relationships implied that the effects of a positive feedback loop accumulated over time and could be substantial as people go through life (Harris, Michelle, Orth, Ulrich, 2019).
The idea that positive relationships with parents may also cultivate self-esteem in children, leading to more positive relationships with peers in adolescence, that could further strengthen the self-esteem of soon-to-be adults, and so on into late adulthood; was discussed. But this field still needs an integrated theory to explain whether relationships have a cumulative effect across life, or whether these certain relationships become very important at certain ages in an individual’s life. In the event of self-esteem or quality of social relationships being low, it can negatively affect the other factor, and produce a downhill spiral, which makes clinical interventions very important to offset this adverse development. Because the effect did not differ greatly among studies with different sample characteristics, it strengthened the confidence in these findings. There is a limited number of longitudinal studies on self-esteem and specific relationships in adulthood and even studies that use measurements outside of a self-report. So there is hope for a forward future with studies working towards filling in these gaps in this field of psychology research (Harris, Michelle, Orth, Ulrich, 2019).
The next psychology journal I read up on was about media exposure in very young girls and its influence on their perspective and cross-sectional relationships with BMIz, self-esteem and body size stereotypes. This journal started out discussing the media exposure among young children that has suggested influence on the self-concept and the adoption of social stereotypes pertaining to body weight, and also its connection to increased weight. The purpose of the study was to be able to examine the role of TV and/or DVD viewing on the influence of positive stereotypes toward thinness, self-esteem and body mass index standardized for child age and gender (BMIz) in very young girls. A sample size of 143 girls took part in interviews at the respective ages of 3, 4, and 5 years old. These interviews checked for positive stereotypes about thinness among girls, including age 5 dietary restraint. Parents were also asked to report on their child’s perceived self-esteem as well as their TV and/or DVD viewing. The height and weight were taken from each child. A cross-lagged model exploring TV and/or DVD viewing as a predictor of lower self-esteem, greater BMIz, and endorsement of positive stereotypes about thinness was tested, including dietary restraint as an outcome at age 5. The findings of this study showed partial support for the theoretical model, with the strongest relationships found between the ages of 4 and 5. Greater TV and/or DVD viewing was weakly related to greater endorsement of positive stereotypes about thinness between ages 3 and 4. Also found, greater TV and/or DVD viewing at age 4 predicted BMIz increases at age 5, and also greater dietary restraint. The results suggested that the influence of media exposure on body image and weight-related variables may start at a very early age. Findings contribute to the body of literature suggesting that early childhood may be an important developmental period for media exposure as well as social influence. This study relates back to my topic of so (Rodgers, 2017).
Next, I reviewed an article that examined the relation between self-esteem and Instagram posts. The study hoped to replicate and extend current research on the influence between posting self photographs (selfies) and self-perception, particularly narcissism as well as self-esteem. Not to confuse the two, self-esteem and narcissism is two different things in social psychology. Narcissism is considered to be the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s idealized self-image and attributes. People with personality disorder usually need large amounts of self-flattery, arrogance, and perfectionism. This study also considered the influence on self-perception and photos of oneself that were not selfies (“posies”) to see if there were internal attributions of selfies vs. other self displays on the highly popular social media outlet, Instagram. 100 undergraduate participants (these included 80 females and 20 males), had self report and observational data collected on them. Selfies and posies were analyzed according to the frequency relative to participants’ posts on Instagram that did not include their own image. Data was also collected according to themes (this included physical appearance, the exact location/event/activity, association with others, other/undifferentiated). Concluding the overall data, it was found that posts like selfies were not associated with narcissism or self-esteem. However, there were some specific themes showing relatively small correlations with narcissism and concerns about societal attitudes about physical appearance. Some aspects of participants’ Instagram activity (such as the number of likes for selfies and posies as well as number of followers) were greatly correlated with posting posies. This study actually does not validate the main thesis of this paper is, which is that there is an influence between social interactions and self-esteem. In this study, it was found that social media posts that included one’s physical appearance (selfie or posie) did not have a correlation with one’s self-esteem. The reason, I believe that social media cannot always dictate your self-esteem when it has to do with your activity on the site such as how often you post selfies because in 2019, social media is no longer just a platform to communicate and socially interact, but it is now a place for many people to make money, so the number of posts someone makes on their physical appearance could have very little to do with their self-esteem and more to do with how much money they will be making along with each picture they may post. Someone people’s physical appearance on social media is their actual business.
Next, I reviewed a journal on the relationship between social skills and self-esteem.
The study in this article examined the relations among a multidimensional self-report measure of social skills/competence, referred to as the Social Skills Inventory, and measures of self-esteem, social anxiety, locus of control, loneliness, and well-being. For the study, 121 undergraduate volunteers completed a multitude of self-report measures with these exact constructs. Not surprisingly, after completing this study, correlational analyses proved that social skills were in fact positively correlated with self-esteem, but negatively correlated with social anxiety and loneliness. However, against their prediction, the total score on the Social Skills Inventory was not greatly correlated with either the locus of control or general well-being measure. But, all of the various measures, excluding the locus of control, seemed to share a common dimension. This being the one that might be considered a sense of social self-efficacy. Relating back to my main argument, that social interaction influences self-esteem, this study validated my argument. It found that there was an influence on self-esteem when it comes to the social aspects of someone’s life, in this case, social skills. Higher social skills correlated with higher self-esteem. It is harder to develop long-lasting, stable relationships without some form of social skills initially, however, relating back to my first topic on how social relationships influence self-esteem and vice versa, one can ultimately see a clear pattern: social skills influence social relationships, social relationships influence self-esteem, and self-esteem can influence social relationships (Riggio, 1990).
Next, I reviewed an article on family environment and self-esteem development. In this study, the effect of family environment on self-esteem development from late childhood (age 10) through adolescence (age 16) was examined, using 4-wave longitudinal data from 674 Mexican-origin families living in the United States. To analyze the family environment, a multi-informant approach was used (mother, father, and child) to construct variables that minimize the influence of biases. This study used cross-lagged panel models (CLPMs) as well as random intercepts cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPMs), to test the effects of parenting behaviors such as: warmth, hostility, monitoring, and involvement in child’s education; and other family environment characteristics such as: quality of the parental relationship, positive family values, maternal and paternal depression, economic conditions of the family, and presence of father, was also tested. It was found in the CLPMs, to be great positive effects on children’s self-esteem emerging from family environmental conditions that included, warmth, monitoring, low maternal depression, economic security, and presence of father. Children’s self-esteem predicted positive family values such as importance and centrality of the family, of mother and father. In the RI-CLPMs, the pattern of results was similar to the CLPMs results; however, only the effects of maternal depression on child self-esteem, and the effect of child self-esteem on family values of father, were statistically significant. In all models, the results were not found to be significantly different between boys and girls, or across ages 10-16. These findings suggest that various features of the family environment help shape the development of self-esteem during late childhood and adolescence. This study relates back to my main argument that there is social interaction influence on one’s self-esteem by evaluating the family interactions on children’s self-esteem. It was found that a more positive, loving, two-parent household (mom and dad) influenced children’s own self-esteem. I believe that family interaction not only influences young children’s self-esteem but it can teach them social skills that they may take into the future. Which continues into the cycle that I have developed not including family dynamics. This model being: Family environment influences self-esteem as well as teaches you important social skills, social skills influence social relationships, social relationships influence self esteem, and self-esteem influences social relationships. (Krauss, 2019).
The main points of my review on social influence on one’s self-esteem was that whether it may be at home with your family, on social media, in a classroom room, or at work, you are always very susceptible to influence by these different social interactions. All of my articles included a social aspect or social environment that could influence one’s self-esteem in either a positive or negative way. I found that ultimately increased self-esteem came from positive family environments, good social skills, positive social relationships that reinforce positive self-esteem. However, I have found that decreased social relationships, or social validation, as well as a negative family environment where there is a missing father and financial instability and increased maternal depression., as well as increased social media and TV viewing activity can have some effect on one’s self-perception and ultimately decrease their self-esteem, (although to a slightly lower amount compared to the other studies; social media study did not validate central thesis). My central argument that there is social influence on one’s self-esteem means that not only are we personally in charge or our self-esteem but also the social environment in which we live in also has access to this characteristic in us all. Starting from a young age, we are developing into the adults we will be in the future and this development begins at home. This argument can be implicated in the real world. Personally, I am a very shy person. I was very sheltered as a child and my parents never pushed me to talk or see