Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Adolescence is a time of rapid developmental change and transition. It is crucial stage in the process of building self-esteem and preparing for adulthood. It is during this period that adolescents will develop a positive or negative perception of themselves.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between self esteem and the variables of gender, socioeconomic status, ethnic/culture background, family characteristics, and academic achievement. The survey population consisted of 13,373 participants from 15 states. Nine middle school students were selected to participate in in-depth interviews. The majority of students were White (54.%), followed by Black (18.2%), Hispanic (19.7%), and other (15.2%).

This study employed the Self-Esteem Questionnaire (SEQ) developed by DuBois, Felner, Brand, Phillips, and Lease (1995). The five dependent variables were academic, general, peer, body image, and sports self esteem. The nine independent variables were gender, socioeconomic status, ethnic/culture origin, living arrangements, mother’s education, father’s education, days and hours alone each week. The study employed a quantitative methodology through use of Pearson’s r, multiple regression analyses, r-test, and Tukey’s Test to calculate the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. A qualitative approach was utilized in an analysis of responses to interview questions.

The findings of this study offer additional support for the perspective that self-esteem is most likely multidimensional. These findings identified grades as a significant influence on all the dimensions of self-esteem as well as the family acting as a strong force in the development of academic self-esteem. No significant difference was found between the peer self-esteem of males and females from all socioeconomic groups. Students who are home alone after school for extended periods of time tend to have a decline in their self-esteem, and body image self-esteem is more important to students whose mothers are college educated.

In conclusion, these data offer much to consider in understanding adolescent self-esteem and its relation to various demographic variables. These results provide a rationale to challenge the role of health professionals and educators in preventing, identifying, and treating this significant and prevalent adolescent problem which extends itself into adulthood.