Psychology Paper - Critically Evaluate the Idea that Increasing Self Esteem is Associated with Better Academic Preformance

Critically evaluate the idea that increasing self esteem is associated with better academic performance.


In past studies the idea that self esteem being associated with academic performance has been evident. Self esteem is a personality variable that could be expected to influence a person’s evaluation of their work (Thomas L. 1973). This personality trait gained from their lifestyle and surroundings can alter an individual’s perception of the type of work that they should be achieving, in this case the academic performances that they should be achieving. There are several key examples of increased self esteem being factor when achieving better academic performances, the public and private school scene in Australia, the African American academic performances and the academic performances of people of Asian decent. These examples will illustrate how an increase of self esteem can lead to a better academic performance.

Self esteem can be thought of as the set of evaluative attitudes that a person applies to himself or as the individuals perception of their worth (Thomas L. 1973). An individual’s self esteem can only be as good as their own perception of themselves. In measuring the effectiveness of increased self esteem being associated with better academic performances the public school versus private school scene in NSW can clearly illustrate this idea. In the past couple of years there has been a trend with school students doing the HSC that certain schools always do better than others. According to McDougall (2008) the top schools in the state of NSW was the Sydney richer east and Northern Suburbs. The article also states that the top 10 schools are seen to be prestigious or selective schools only taking students that are of high intelligence levels from a selective test. By going through a rigorous process and being accepted into a selective school a person’s self esteem will increase as they will perceive themselves as being smart or even better than others. Clearly indicating how an increase of self esteem can lead to better academic results.

Though the is a clear indication of the association with self esteem and academic results, some of the top achievers from last years HSC were from a public school showing illustrating how being in a prestigious school may not just be the case and other factors may play an important role in achieving good academic performances. Thus showing that an increase of self esteem associated with better academic performances can only be seen as an estimation tool as other factors can contribute to the person’s personality (Thomas L. 1973). This estimation can be helpful for many parents choosing a good school for their child as it provides them a stereotype of what they want their child to achieve at the end of their schooling life. This stereotype may provide to be handy for the parents but can increase pressure on the student.

Stereotyping individuals can also lead to higher self esteem which can lead to better academic performances. It’s these influences which determine how an individual processes information and develops opinions about their own abilities (Dweck 1999). In our society African Americans and Asians have always been stereotyped positively or negatively. Asians for example have always seen to be smart or are seen to be good with numbers etc. due to their culture. Many Asian parents regard academic achievement as the single most important indicator of success for their children and overlook other aspects of physical and psychological development (C. C. W. Yua 2006). From their upbringing Asian students tend to believe that they have to fill a certain stereotype in order for them to be accepted into the community. This belief provides those students of Asian decent to perform better academically, providing an image of themself as being academically better, giving them self esteem in order for them to achieve a higher academic standing. They may not necessarily do well but they will generally do better than they would have generally have achieved.

Similarly African Americans have also been stereotyped, the stereotyping on African Americans however have led to African Americans not being able to perform academically in spite having their self esteem equal to or higher than whites according to Van Laar (2000). African Americans may have high self esteem but it may not necessarily have been due to their academic talents. Subconsciously the stereotype that society has given them have lower their academic self esteem, and attribute their fate to blocked opportunities and institutional barriers (Van Laar 2000). By having a negative image embedded in their subconscious African Americans automatically don’t give themselves a chance to succeed.

Dweck (1999) states that there are two ways of gaining intelligence the first being a belief in fixed intelligence, and the secondly an increase of intelligence through effort. Between the African American culture and the Asian culture, the African American culture looks more at the second method of gaining intelligence with putting the effort in order to gain intelligence whilst the Asian culture believe they have it within themselves illustrating how they have more self esteem and self confidence in themselves to be able to believe.