INTRODUCTION In 1951, Solomon Asch discovered the power of conformity in everyday situations. In his famous experiment, he realized that individuals conformed with the group even with very simple tasks, such as determining which of three lines is the longest. His work encouraged many to follow-up with different variables added. Surprisingly, none of these variables were self-esteem (Asch, 1951). Self-esteem has also been looked at in much detail over the last several years. There have been many scales developed, which have been shown to accurately measure self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as the way we see ourselves physically, socially, and emotionally. There are many different things that are considered when measuring self-esteem. Our abilities are one of the things that we base our self-image on. Another thing that is important to our self-esteem is how other people see us. It is important to most people to be accepted by their peers. (Myers, 1999) The purpose of this research is to encourage better understanding of the relationship between conformity and self-esteem. There is a lot of practical knowledge that can be gained from this research. This research enables individuals to apply information in this area to everyday life. This study may not generalize well with the general public, but I believe that it is important in understanding traditional college students. This research can help us understand which students are more likely to engage in dangerous activities due to peer pressure.
The participants in this study were 23 male and female beginning psychology students from Missouri Western State College. Missouri Western State College is a medium-sized, four-year college in northwest St. Joseph.
MATERIALS AND PROCEDURE
There were two scales used in this study to test for conformity and self-esteem. The first was the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the second was a scale developed by the researcher. The procedure for this study consisted of the researcher going into a beginning psychology classroom and passing out the two questionnaires to students.
RESULTS A Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated to determine the relationship between conformity and self-esteem. A moderate negative correlation was found (r(21)=-.483, p=.02), indicating a significant linear relationship between the two variables. Those individuals with high conformity tend to have lower self-esteem. An independent t-test compared the mean conformity score to the mean self-esteem score. The conformity score (t(21)=-1.35, p>.05) was not significantly different from the self-esteem score (t(21)=-0451, p>.05).
DISCUSSION This study found that there was a moderate negative correlation between conformity and self-esteem. People who scored high on the conformity scale tended to score lower on the scale of self-esteem. Individuals who scored low on the conformity scale scored significantly higher on the scale of self-esteem. One of the limitations of this study is the sample that was used. The majority of the participants were white, traditional age college students. This limits the ability to generalize this study to the population. However, this also gives us valuable, practical knowledge about college age students. It helps us to better understand and predict how students will act in certain situations based on their scores on these tests. Another limitation in this study was the atmosphere. The survey was given in a general psychology classroom where the students were very close together and there were casual conversations being carried on. Since the survey was concerning conformity and self-esteem this could have affected the results in this study. The scores could have been different if individuals were seated by themselves. There have not been many studies done about conformity and self-esteem. However, there are many different aspects of conformity and self-esteem that can be looked at. This was a very general study, but I would be interested to know if there are significant differences in the scores of conformity and self-esteem when considering minority groups. When people talk about conformity and peer pressure, it is often considered to be something that is prevalent in young people. Another option for future research would be to compare the self-esteem and conformity scores between different age groups. I am curious to know if middle age individuals or the elderly would produce different results.Although, this study has difficulty generalizing with different groups, it encourages future research in this area. There has been little research done on these areas and I believe that there is a lot of practical knowledge that can be gained from this research and applied to many areas of psychology.
REFERENCESAsch, S. E. (1951). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193, 31-35. Meyer, D.G. (1999). Social Psychology. McGraw-Hill: Boston.
APPENDIX 1. Group opinion is more important than an individual`s opinion.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
2. I feel comfortable saying no.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
3. I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal basis with others.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
4. I do not associate with some people because of what others will think.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
5. When talking to others in my class, it is important that my grades are comparable.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
6. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
7. I feel most comfortable when my opinions match those of others.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
8. I am more concerned with what other people think than my personal beliefs.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
9. I would not go out with someone because of what my friends would think.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
10. I sometimes exaggerate facts so that I fit in more with my peers.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
11. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
12. I am able to do things as well as most other people.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
13. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
14. I take a positive attitude toward myself.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
15. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
16. I buy things that I really cannot afford to keep up with others` material objects.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
17. I tend to conform to group norms.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
18. I wear clothes I don`t really like because they are in style.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
19. I wish I could have more respect for myself.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
20. I certainly feel useless at times.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
21. I agree with the group even if it is not what I believe in.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
22. At times, I think I am no good at all.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
23. I feel more comfortable around people of my own race.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
24. I work out/exercise so my appearance is more like that of my peers.Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
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