Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-10-1974


The Problem

This study was an attempt to investigate the effects of self-esteem on the social matching and persist­ence behavior of nursery school children. Typical research in the area has focused on the self-concepts of preschool children from minority groups in poverty neigh­borhoods. Little work has been done on systematically manipulating self-esteem and determining its effect on some very specific aspect of behavior. This study was an attempt to help fulfill this need.

Methods and Procedure

The sample consisted of 60 subjects, ages four or five, enrolled in a private middle class school. A 3 x 2 factorial design was used with three levels of self-esteem (high, medium, and low) and two experimental conditions (success and failure). The subjects were first assessed on self-esteem. Based on their test scores, they were divided into groups of high, medium, and low self-esteem. Half of each group was then randomly assigned to an experimental success condition and the other half to a failure condition. The subjects were then tested on their social matching and persistence behavior.


An analysis of variance was performed in order to compare the differences among the group means. The results indicated that there were no significant differ­ences among the levels of self-esteem and no significant interactions between the levels of self-esteem and the experimental conditions on either task. However, there was a significant difference on the social matching and the persistence tasks between the success and failure groups at the .05 level and the .01 level of confidence, respectively.


The following conclusions seem to be warranted. Social matching behavior seems to decrease following success and increase following failure, regardless of initial self-esteem levels. Persistence on a problem solving task seems to increase following success and decrease following failure, regardless of self-esteem levels. Self-esteem does not seem to be as strong as success or failure in producing changes in performance.

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Gordon Zick

Second Committee Member

Sidney Rosenblum

Third Committee Member

George Keppers

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