A Review of the Literature
April 26th 2011
Is It High or Low Self-Esteem That Causes Aggression in Young Adolescents?
A Review of the Literature
The past two decades have witnessed an eminent debate on whether aggression in children is caused byhigh self-esteem or low self-esteem (Diamantopoulu et al. 2008). A lingering question that is important because as society evolves, acts of aggression evolve. It is imperative for society to find a definitive answer, yet, there has been a lack of success in finding a concrete response. Aggression in children has been empirically proven to be associated with both high and low self-esteem. The lackof success in past and recent studies to agree upon a norm, when dealing with aggression in young adolescents, which could possibly redefine what we inculcate on our children: high self- esteem or low self-esteem, calls for further inquisition. This literature review considers both sides of the spectrum in the following way:
1. Giving a summary of four empirical studies dealing with theeffects of high/low self-esteem/narcissim on aggression.
2. A critique of the articles.
3. A compare and contrast of the articles.
Understanding yet another causer or causers of aggression in children can help us better understand the complexity of the human personality. After all, aggressive children, if not corrected, will become adults with aggressive personalities.
“Low Self-Esteem IsRelated to Aggression, Antisocial Behavior, and Delinquency”
This study researched the contentious relation linking self-esteem and externalizing problems like: anti-social behavior, delinquency, and most importantly, aggression (Donnellan et al.,2005). These were tested on a sample size of 292 students of different cultural backgrounds (European American, Asian American, Hispanic American, andAfrican American). Each participant was asked to take a self-esteem assessment test, which was measured with the 10-item Rosenberg (1965) Self-Esteem Scale (in all four studies, participants’ self-esteem was measured prior to experimenting). A total of three studies were conducted in order to seek the connection held for measures of self-esteem and externalizing problems based on the way theirparents and teachers rated them. As well as, how they rated themselves by carefully controlling for probable confounding variables; and examining particular aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The results indicated that low self-esteem was a predictor of an increase on future aggressive acts (Donnellan et al., 2005).
This study was the only one out of the four that directly credited the lowself-esteem hypothesis as an evoker of aggression. They were aware of the discrepancies between their research and others’ studies. Donnellan et al. (2005) felt the need to give the following explanations for the discrepancies between their findings and preceding lab studies:
* Actual externalizing problems take place in different situations, and these real-life forms of aggression compriseunique correlates. Unlike lab-aggression-studies that usually target a particular form of aggression, principally, aggression aroused by a self-evaluative competitive task (Donnellan et al., 2005).
* Real-world aggression causes real harm, while lab aggression is not a causer of serious harm to your peers or yourself. Yet, according to this study in vivo exposure is a necessary for genuineresults (Donnellan et al., 2005).
This study concluded that the relation between low-self-esteem and aggression was in general small to moderate, which explicates discrepancies in all reviewed literature for this paper, discrepancies, which lead them to conclude that it was a safe assumption to place low/high self-esteem as contributors of externalizing problems.
“Looking Again, and Harder,...