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self esteem


Self Esteem in Athletes Compared to Non-athletes
Kerry Cooper
Psychology 223
December 4, 2000

The correlation of playing competitive sports at college level and self esteem are measured. Subjects were given the Barksdale self esteem questionnaire to fill out and levels of self esteem are measured by scores out of one hundred. The subjects are then separated into categories determined by gender and whether they played sports at the college level. The results indicated that the elite athletes have a higher self esteem than non athletes. The survey also revealed that women have a slightly higher self esteem than men. These findings agree with our hypothesis that athletes will have a higher level of self esteem than non athletes will.

Self Esteem in Athletes Compared to Non-Athletes
Self esteem is defined as “the esteem or good opinion of ones self; Vanity”( Patterson p.201). It is Defined by The New Websters Dictionary as “ ones evaluation of one’s worth as a person based on an assessment of the qualities that make up the self-concept” ( Shaffer G-9). Every one has known someone with fantastically high self esteem and someone with extremely low self esteem. It always seems to be the football captain or head cheer leader with high self esteem and the geeky computer nerd with the low self esteem. This research has set out to prove or disprove this theory. This paper will discuss in detail the method used to collect the information, the results, and the summary and conclusions of the research. It is our hypothesis that athlete’s will score higher on the questionnaire than non-athlete’s.
Self esteem, as stated earlier, is a very popular term which seems to be studied a lot. In reviewing many journal articles on the topic it was found that, indeed their was a lot of research on self esteem but not research in the area of athletics and self esteem. The research that we chose to take a closer look at that directly linked to our research was a journal in the journal of college student development called; A comparison of college athletic participants and non-participants on self esteem. As well as looking at that research we also referred to the Encyclopaedia of human intelligence and an interesting article about exercise and cognitive functioning.
The purpose of this research then is to find out of levels of self esteem differ in athletes and non athletes. The hypothesis drawn was that athletes would prove to have a higher overall average of self esteem when compared to non athletes. The null hypothesis is that their will be no difference between the two groups. Goals of this research are to satisfy some curiosity in the area and maybe dispel of some long reaching stereo types.
It was decided that the goal would best be reached through a questionnaire given to people to fill out that would evaluate their self esteem. After going through many the Baarksdale self esteem evaluation no.69 , it was decided on as being the most thorough and the one most pertaining to he research. Some questions at the end were added asking for age, sex, and whether or not they play competitive sports. These questions were added so we could separate them onto the respective categories: athlete/non athlete. Our control group would be the group that does not play on a sports team. The athletes would be compared to them. The questionaries were handed out randomly.
The people in our control group were selected randomly from the public. We simply found people and asked them to complete the self esteem survey. The athletes were not selected randomly. We chose to use our resources as current athletes. We used our fellow team mates from the hockey, basketball, and soccer teams. We tried to limit the age to people between the age of 18 and 25. Out of one hundred people surveyed, roughly seventy percent were non athletes while only thirty percent were athletes. The split also applied when looking at male and female participants, females being the larger group.
Self esteem was assessed with the Barksdale self esteem evaluation no. 69. The Barksdale evaluation consisted of twenty five questions measuring feelings or perceptions about themselves. Questions were rated on a scale from zero to four. Zero being not at all true and a four being true all the time. We added some questions at the end of the questionnaire to help separate the questioned into two groups. There is a sample questionnaire in Appendix A which may be viewed.
To gather data we used the questionnaire research method, and we used the data to estimated the effects that competitive college sports have on self esteem. The dependent variable was the individuals self esteem. The independent variable was wether the individual played on a college athletic team or not. The level of high self esteem was rated at a score of 95 by the evaluation standards. Once all the surveys were gathered all the numbers were added up and divided by the number of participants to find a mean score for the group. There were four means tallied as there were four groups, male, female, athlete, and non athlete. The mean scores were assessed and we were able to arrive at our results from them.
From the seventy non athletes a mean score of 61 was assessed and from the athletes a mean score of 68. There were only 35 athletes evaluated. As an interest point to our research we also compared male to female. A mean score of 64 was assessed from 72 females and a mean score of 62 for the males. There is a chart in Appendix A which reflects the results of all our data.

Some complications arouse along the way. The Barksdale self esteem evaluation saw a score of 95 as good self esteem. When the evaluations started coming back in, it was noted that the highest scores were around 75. This is not consequential to our study though because we are not measuring how much self esteem each group as, as much as we are measuring who had a greater level of self esteem. No matter what the score were we were able to establish a higher group and a lower group. Another problem with the questionnaire is that people were unclear as to how to answer the questions properly. Which may have been another reason for the low scores.
Even with the problems identified we were able to process our data and make an intelligible statement. Athletes were shown to have a higher level of self esteem. They scored 8 points higher than their counter group. There are many reasons which may be associated with these findings. Athletes competing at a college level are competing at a very high level of competition. You must be very skilled to compete at that level. If you happen to have these abilities which allow to do this then its likely that your aware that you are apart of an elite group of individuals with inflated ego’s. Which brings me to my next point. Athletes are stereo typed as having big egos which may be why they have a higher self esteem. The sample size for the athletes was less than half of the size of the non athletes. If they had been even in numbers there’s a possibility that the results may have changed. To succeed people need confidence and confidence is directly associated with self esteem. Every one of the athletes have achieved success in their area of play. Leading me to believe that they must have a good self esteem. On this same note these athletes have something to feel good about which in turn helps there self esteem.
The other group was the non athletes. There were 70 people in this group. This could be one of the possibilities why they score lower on average. Even though they scored lower there stats were varied. Some of the people scored very high and some very low, the range for the scores in this group was much larger than the athletes. This shows that self esteem is not consistent in non athletes. It completely depends on the person you happen to pick as to whether or not they will have a good self esteem. Whereas the athletes had a much smaller range, making there scores more consistent. What we derived from this is that athletes are more likely to score the same as other athlete’s. Non athlete’s may have lacked that certain something that provides you with a good basis to develop a healthy self esteem while growing up. If I child has nothing to provide confidence and self worth then its very difficult to develop a good self esteem. The athletes obviously excelled in there sports and this gives you a feeling of self worth. This is why athletes may have scored higher than non athletes.
For interest purposes we also decided to take a look at the difference between male and females. Females scored higher, but only by 2 points. This is probably not a significant difference given there is a 5 percent error allowed. If we had to give a reason why the females scored higher, it might be because females tend to mature faster. If they mature faster then they are likely to develop a self esteem faster than males. Also the group sizes were not even. There were 70 females and only 30 males, this would definitely cause some differences in the scores.
In reviewing how we approached this project there are a few steps we could have taken to made our results a little better. We could have gathered a larger sample group from each category. This would have made the data stronger. Instead of just simply comparing the means of the two groups, we could have performed a one-way anova test. This would have proved or disproved the null hypothesis indefinably. A one-way anova determines whether there is a significant difference between two variables. The self esteem evaluation could have been more specific in its questioning and instructions on how to answer.
The results proved our hypothesis to be true. The athletes did in fact score higher. Whether the score difference was significant or not cannot be determined properly unless a one-way anova test is done. In our opinion a score of 8 higher on average is large enough to make the assumption that athletes have a higher self esteem than non athletes. The reasons for this difference were prominent. Neither group scored high enough on the test to say they had a very good self esteem. In fact there average scores were both in the range that would be considered less than good self esteem. This is due to the evaluation, it was not clear on its instructions as to how the questions should be properly answered. The most important thing learned from this study is that you must be careful in choosing how you gather your data. Minor mistakes can cause grave differences in your end results.

Patterson, R.F.(1993). New Webster’s Dictionary. Miami: P.S.I & Associates, Inc.
Shaffer, D.R.(1999). Developmental Psychology: Childhood & Adolescence. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Sternberg, R.(Ed.).(1994). Encyclopaedia of human intelligence. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
Taylor, D.L.(1996). A comparison of college athletic participants and non-participants on self esteem. Journal of College Student Development, 36, 444-451

Appendix A

Mean scores
Athlete=68.11 Non-athlete=61.3 Male=62.03 Female=63.85

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