Relationship Between Self-Concept, Self-esteem, Anxiety, Depression
and Academic Achievement in Adolescents
This study is surveying some of personality characteristics
of adolescents and their associations with academic achievement: Accordingly,
1314 randomly allocated students of Tehrans high schools were assessed
by Beck self-concept inventory, Coopersmith self-esteem inventory, Spielberger
State-Trait anxiety inventory, Beck depression inventory. Results indicate
that self-concept is correlated with self-esteem and these two have positive
impacts on augment of academic achievement. Moreover, the increase of
self-concept and self-esteem are related to the decrease of anxiety and
a negative significant relation exists between self-concept, self-esteem
and depression which will ensue decrease in academic achievement.
It was Maslow (1954) who first hypothesized that esteem was one of the
five sets of human needs. Self-respect, autonomy and achievement were
seen as internal esteem factors, while status, recognition and attention
were deemed to be external esteem factors. Esteem was classified as a
higher-order need because it concerned the self of the individual. While
esteem was others perception of the individual, self esteem was an opinion
by the individual of himself. Rosenberg (1965) described self esteem as
a favorable or unfavorable attitude towards the self. Self esteem is the
product of two internal assessments or judgments, the global judgment
and one's self-worth. The key to self esteem was the amount of discrepancy
between what a person desired and what that person believed he/she had
achieved and the overall sense of support that the person he/she felt
from people around him/her.
Self esteem is an individual's sense of his or her value or worth, or
the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes,
or likes himself or herself (Blascovich and Tomaka, 1991). It is generally
considered to be the evaluative component of the self-concept, a broader
representation of the self that included cognitive and behavioral aspects
as well as evaluative or affective ones. Related concepts such as self-confidence
or body-esteem implied a narrower sense of self esteem. The relationship
between self-esteem and psychological well-being in terms of depression,
social anxiety, loneliness and alienation was well-established. It is
believed that self esteem worked like a trait and was stable across time
within individuals. Everyone's self esteem is influenced by many factors.
Parents, teachers, co-workers, friends, fellow classmates and the environment
were constantly influencing self esteem (Osborne, 1997). It has been related
to virtually every other psychological concept or domain, including personality,
task performance and similar behavior, cognitive (e.g., attribution bias)
and clinical concepts such as anxiety and depression.
Baumeister et al. (2003) concluded from a review of the self esteem
literature that the benefits of high self esteem fell into the categories
of enhanced initiative and pleasant feelings. Bernard et al. (1996)
found high correlations among self esteem, self-efficacy, ego strength,
hardiness, optimism and maladjustment and all of these constructs were
significantly related to health. Stamatakis et al. (2003) looked
at the association of self esteem and mortality in a large sample of males
in Finland. They report that lower self-esteem was found to be associated
with many socioeconomic, behavioral, psychosocial and disease characteristics.
Past research has shown that self esteem and academic achievement correlated
directly to a moderate degree (Wiggins and Schatz, 1994). Having one's
academic achievement meet one's academic expectations and desires was
a major support to most college students self-esteem. A high self esteem
had many positive effects and benefits, especially among college students.
Students who felt positive about themselves had fewer sleepless nights,
succumbed less easily to pressures of conformity by peers, were less likely
to use drugs and alcohol, were more persistent at difficult tasks, were
happier and more sociable and tended to perform better, academically.
On the other hand, college students with a low self esteem tended to be
unhappy and less sociable, were more likely to use drugs and alcohol and
were more vulnerable to depression, which were all correlated with lower
academic achievement. Honors students demonstrated higher academic selfesteem
and competency. For them, this academic self-esteem was a motivational
factor (Moeller, 1994). For many college students, their self esteem was
based or enforced by their academic success or achievements. Academic
achievement was influenced by perceived competence, locus of control,
autonomy and motivation (Wiest et al., 1998).
In a study 1250 girls were assessed by Dishman et al. (2006) there
was a strong positive relation between global physical self-concept and
self-esteem and a moderate inverse relation between self-esteem and depression
symptoms. Trautwein et al. (2006) demonstrates that reciprocal
effects were found between self-esteem, academic self-concept and academic
Researches of Knapen et al. (2005) showed the relationship between
improvements in physical self-concept and enhancements in global self-esteem,
depression and anxiety supports the potential role of the physical self-concept
in the recovery process of depressed and anxious psychiatric inpatients.
Heyman (1990) hypothesized that self-perception of one's learning disability
would be related positively to both academic self-concept and self-esteem
Different studies have reached the conclusion that academic achievement
and self-esteem are positively correlated (Bankston and Zhou, 2002; Lockett
and Harrell, 2003; Ross and Broh, 2000; Schmidt and Padilla, 2003; Verkuyten
and Brug, 2002; Wong and Watkins, 2001). Shavelson and his colleagues
(quoted in Elshenawi and Badary, unpublished) proposed a hierarchical
conception of self-esteem. It begins with general self-esteem, then two
correlated dimensions stem out of it: the first one is related to academic
achievement and the second one is related to its physical, emotional and
A fair number of previous studies have found a significant relationship
between academic achievement and anxiety (Diaz et al., 2001).
Using an Egyptian sample, Mattar (1981) found that the relationship between
anxiety and academic achievement was positive and statistically significant
for scientific section students, whereas it was negative for literary
section students. Soliman (1979) studied the
acceptance of superior and retarded sons of their parents attitudes toward
their academic achievement and its relationship to their anxiety level
among 405 secondary school students in Cairo, Egypt. He found a statistically
significant correlation between anxiety and academic achievement in males.
For females, the correlation was not significant.
Generally, it could be concluded that there is a positive relationship
between high degrees of academic achievement and low anxiety. There is
a certain degree of anxiety that increases academic achievement, but if
anxiety increases beyond that degree the opposite happens. On the basis
of the Yerkes-Dodson law both the task difficulty and the level of anxiety
must be taken into consideration. That is on difficult tasks low levels
of arousal improve performance relative to high levels, but on easy tasks,
the reverse is true (Reber, 1995).
According to the clinicians, skeptic people who are doubtful abut their
merits, cant achieve an Affectionately proportionate life, no account
of fearing from declaration of their incompetences and being Secluded;
Thus they evade and confrontation with serious affectionate relationships
and eventually feel isolated (Coopersmith, 1967a; Kaplan et al.,
Other clinical studies have shown that probably one major cause of anxiety
is undergoing failure impression or lacking fitness in a persons
characteristics and whishes.
In fact, if one accepts that anxiety is a result of feeling being threatened
or sensing hazard, it can be said that is in this territory which self-concept
has been threatened (Coopersmith, 1967b; American Psychiatric Association,
Also several experimental and field researches have studied these parameters
and confirmed clinical concepts.
Fites et al. (1992) research result show an invert correlation
between anxiety and self-concept, indeed high anxiety is relevant with
low self-concept and high self-concept is in relation with affirmative
attitude toward school.
These results indicate that self-concept and self-esteem have a momentous
role on mental health so that with a decline in these factors, symptoms
and traits of anxiety, depression, loneliness, shyness and being reserved
will be revealed and if persistent, serious problems will ensue (Kaplan
et al., 1995).
On the other hand a close a significant negative association exists between
self-esteem and depression. (Westavy et al., 1992). Also, theres
correlation between depression symptoms and academic and social failure;
and these ineptitudes will increase depression symptoms (Cole, 1990);
Besides accomplished students with better scores have less anxiety in
comparison with unsuccessful and deficient students (Polansky, 1990).
There is a significant affirmative correlation between self-esteem and
high scores, while depression is associated with serious negative and
critical self evaluation (Alice, 1989).
People who have a low estimating rate of their self-concept are likely
to show certain personality characteristics such as shyness, reserved
state, seclusion and loneliness (Kaliopusks et al., 1991).
When some one underestimates his merits, will become less persistent
against others facing and reverse ideas, however someone who is endowed
with high self estimating rate has a fixed resolution about his capacities
and cap abilities, these group of people actively take part in social
collaboration and more literately and express what they want and wish
This studys end is to survey personality characteristic of adolescents
including self-concept, self-esteem and their relation with academic achievement,
as we believe that ignorance and illiteracy of parents, managers and instructors
of society about these characteristics, lack of facilities in providing
chances for blossom out, inadequate accommodations for these purpose,
all are motives that will quench and stifle these qualifications and surely
many are degenerated because of this know ledge deficiency which will
terminate in physical and mental disorders most momentous of them known
as anxiety and depression (Eccles et al., 1989; Ray et al.,
Based on previous studies in this field we decide to study the relationship
between self-concept, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and academic achievement
in adolescents in Iran. And want determine whether the personality features
have positive or negative effect on academic achievement or not.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Our statistical society embraces all male and female students of Tehrans
high schools; from which 1314 students were chosen randomly in order to
be the tests examines.
We did cluster sampling, to this end, from Tehran citys different
educational regions, region 4 was picked out at random then again 2 schools
were selected in this region in the same way. The mean age in the specimen
is 15 years and 8 month and the standard deviation (SD) is 1.06.
In this survey, evaluation of intended parameters occurred by earring
out Beck (1985) self-concept inventory (1987) with mean of 86. 45 and
SD of 9.99.
Coopersmith (1997a and b) self -esteem inventory mean: 34.67 SD: 8.47.
The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory was developed through research to
assess attitude toward oneself in general and in specific contexts: peers,
parents, school and personal interests. It was originally designed for
use with children, drawing on items from scales that were previously used
by Carl Rogers. Respondents state whether a set of 50 generally favorable
or unfavorable aspects of a person are like me or not like me. There are
two forms, a School Form (ages 8-15) and an Adult form (ages 16 and older)
(Anastasi, 1988; Blascovich and Tomaka, 1991; Pervin, 1993). Acceptable
reliability (internal consistency and test-retest) and validity (convergent
and discriminant) information exists for the Self-Esteem Inventory (Blascovich
and Tomaka, 1991).
Spielberger (1983) state-trait anxiety inventory mean the state score
was 34.30±10.79 and the Trait score was 36.07±10.47. Among
many instruments to assess anxiety, one stands out: the State-Trait Anxiety
Inventory (STAI, Spielberger, 1983). This does not mean that it is an
ideal measure but it is the most frequently used scale in research world-wide
and no other measure has received as many foreign language adaptations
and citations in the last three decades. Thus, it is the standard in the
field. The self-report inventory consists of 20 items to assess state
anxiety and another 20 items to assess trait anxiety. These two parts
differ in the item wording, in the response format (intensity vs. frequency)
and in the instructions for how to respond. An alternative to the STAI
is the Endler Multidimensional Anxiety Scales (EMAS; Endler et al.,
1991), based on Endler's theory of person-situation interactionism (Endler,
The procedure was to make arrangements with chosen schools and then after
attendance, students were divided into groups, each containing 15-20 student
which would receive informative explanation a bout aim, procedure and
answering methods of these tests; then at the presence of researchers,
the questionnaire would be filled out and it takes approximately two one
-hour sessions to be completed.
For evaluating academicals achievement, the last two previous academic
averages of the students was gathered and used as a mean of academic achievement.
In the survey, data processing gained from statistical ways of Pearsons
For analyzing the data collected from this study the results were divided
into 3 groups (low, intermediate, high) based on Mean±SD and then
according to the variance analysis method (ANOVA) and their relation with
other parameters, they have been explored. Results gained show a fair
connection between self-concept and self-esteem; it means self-esteem
will increase in as much as self-concept increase. And it can be said
that a significant affirmative relation (p<0.0l) exists between
self-concept and self-esteem. Additionally a negative significant relation
(p<0.01) exists between self-concept and anxiety (state-trait) and
depression. It means that the higher self-concept is the more anxiety
(state-trait) and depression decrease.
In addition to all above, it can be inferred from the test result that
academic achievement in students with low self-concept is comparatively
less than students with high self-concept and it means that. Low self-concept
will affect students academic functions and undermine it. (Table
1). In self-esteem alliance with other it can be inferred that theres
a negative significant relation between self-esteem and anxiety and depression
as long as self-esteem increases, anxiety and depression will decrease.
Further academic achievement in low self-esteem students is perceptibly
less than average and high self-esteem students. it also expresses that
low self-esteem affect educational function and decline academic achievement
(Table 2). A summary of correlation test results among
intended average variables are put in Table 3.
|| Relation between self-concept and other variables
||Relation between self-esteem and other variables
The surveys results have signified that self-concept and self-esteem
are relevant; it means that any increase in self-concept will amplify
self-esteem and these results are correspondent with the researches results
of Kaplan et al. (1995) and Dishman et al. (2006). These
two components have a momentous role in personality. Thus in terms of
these surveys result people with high self-concept and self-esteem
respect and themselves, have high adaptability, are capable in initiating
good motive relations with others, take part in creational works have
an active role social groups and are endowed with high self confidence.
The research also indicates that, not only self-concept is it correlation
with self esteem but also can play an important role in academic achievement
and these results are correspondent with the researches results of Alice
et al. (1989) and Wiggins and Schalz (1994).
According to these results a question can be here that what causes disturbance
in this natural procedure? In other word, what cause a decrease in self
concept and self esteem that will lead in to inclination of academic achievement?
Conclusions inferred from the survey indicate that when anxiety increases
apprehension, irritability, sensitivity distress, stimulation, sensibility
against criticisms, feeling disdained and it will result in misevaluation
of personality which is an out come of past or present experiments, feeling
ineptitude sensitivity against others confirmation or contradictions over
praising other people and generally decrease in self esteem like other
researchers reported (Mattar, 1981; Polamsky, 1990; Reber, 1995; Diaz
et al., 2001).
Also it is disclosed that beside these motives a significant source of
self concept and self-esteem inclination is not only state anxiety, but
also trait anxiety a behavior field which prepare one to feel in hazardous
accomplishments. Anxiety traits are various stable differences and cause
to perceive the world and surroundings in a different way.
The other significant result gained from the research is that increase
in anxiety will ensue in depression increase and there is a significant
negative relation between self-concept, self-esteem, depression and academic
achievement and these results are correspondent with the researches results
of Cole (1990), Kalio puska (1991), Knapen et al. (2005) and Dishman
et al. (2006).
APA., 2000. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-Association). 4th Edn., American Psychiatric Press Inc., USA., ISBN-10: 0890420254.
Alice, W.P., S. McHale and W.E. Craighead, 1988. Self-Esteem Enhancement with Children and Adolescents. Pergamon Press, New York.
Anastasi, A., 1988. Psychological Testing. 6th Edn., MacMillan (edizione italiana: I Test psicologici. Milano: Angeli), New York.
Bankston, C.L. III and M. Zhou, 2002. Being well vs. doing well: Self-esteem and school performance among immigrant and non-immigrant racial and ethnic groups. Int. Migration Rev., 36: 389-415.
Direct Link |
Baumeister, R.F., J.D. Campbell, J.I. Kreuger and K.D. Vohs, 2003. Does high self esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness or healthier lifestyles? Psychol. Sci. Public Interest, 4: 1-44.
Beck, A.T., 1985. Self-Concept Test. Center for Cognitive Therapy, Room 602, 133 south 36th street Philadelphia, Pa, pp: 19104.
Bernard, L.C., S. Hutchison, A. Lavin and P. Pennington, 1996. Ego-strength, hardiness, self esteem, self-efficacy, optimism and maladjustment: Health-related personality constructs and the Big Five model of personality. Assessment, Psychol. Assessment Reso. Inc: US., 3: 115-131.
Direct Link |
Blascovich, J. and J. Tomaka, 1991. Measures of Self Esteem. In: Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes, Robinson, J.P., P.R. Shaver and L.S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Volume I. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Chaudhari, U.R. and S. Ray, 1992. Study of self-concept, locus of control and adjustement of intellectually superior and normal students. Ind. J. Behav., 16: 24-26.
Cole, D., 1990. Relation of social and academic competence to depression symptoms in childhood. J. Abnormal Psychol., 99: 422-429.
Coopersmith, S., 1967. Self-esteem Inventory. Freeman, W.H. and Co., Published in 1981 by Consulting Psychologists Press, California.
Coopersmith, S., 1967. The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. Freeman and Co., Sanfransisco, pp: 492-496.
Diaz, R. J., C. R. Glass, D. B. Arnkoff and M. Tanofsky-Kraff, 2001. Cognition, anxiety and prediction of performance in 1st year law. J. Educat. Psychol., 93: 420-429.
Direct Link |
Dishman, R.K., D.P. Hales, K.A. Pfeiffer, GA Felton and R. Saunders et al., 2006. Physical self-concept and self-esteem mediate cross-sectional relations of physical activity and sport participation with depression symptoms among adolescent girls. Health Psychol., 25: 396-407.
PubMed | Direct Link |
Eccles, A.L. Bauman, E. and K.J. Rotenberg, 1989. Peer acceptance and self-esteem in gifted children. J. Soc. Behavior Personality, 4: 401-409.
Endler, N.S., 1997. Stress, anxiety and coping: The multidimensional interaction model. Can. Psychol., 38: 136-153.
Endler, N.S., J.M. Edwards and R. Vitelli, 1991. Endler Multidimensional Anxiety Scales (EMAS): Manual. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles, CA.
Fite, K., S. Howard, N.K. Garlington and S. Zinkgraf, 1992. Self-concept, anxiety and attitude toward school. TACD., 20: 21-28.
Heyman, W.B., 1990. The self-perception of a learning disability and its relationship to academic self-concept and self-esteem. J. Learn Disabil. Books Link Out, 23: 472-475.
Kaliopusks, M. and M. Laitinen, 1991. Loneliness related to self-concept. Psychol. Report., 69: 27-34.
Kaplan, H.I., B.G. Sadock and G.A. Grebb, 1995. Synopsis of Psychiatry. Mass Publishing Co., Middle East, pp: 121-124.
Knapen, J., P. Van de Vliet, H. Van Coppenolle, A. David, J. Peuskens, G. Pieters and K. Knapen, 2005. Comparison of changes in physical self-concept, global self-esteem, depression and anxiety following 2 different psychomotor therapy programs in non psychotic psychiatric inpatients. Psychother. Psychosom., 74: 353-361.
CrossRef | Direct Link |
Lockett, C.T. and J.P. Harrell, 2003. Racial identity, self-esteem and academic achievement: Too much interpretation, too little supporting data. J. Black Psychol., 29: 325-336.
CrossRef | Direct Link |
Maslow, A., 1954. Motivation and Personality. Harper and Row, New York, USA., Pages: 411.
Mattar, 1981. A study of the relationship between anxiety level and academic achievement in secondary school students. Unpublished Master's degree Thesis, Cairo, College of Education, Ain Shams University, Egypt.
Moeller, T.G., 1994. What research says about self-esteem and academic performance. Educat. Digest, pp: 34.
Osborne, J., 1997. Identification with academics and academic success among community college students. Commu. College Rev., 25: 59-67.
Direct Link |
Pervin, L.A., 1993. Personality: Theory and Research. John Wiley and Sons, NY.
Polansky, J., 1990. Self-esteem and anxiety among high and low achieving gifted and nongifted student and their parents. McGill Univ. (Canada), 30/04 of Masters Abstracts.
Reber, A.S., 1995. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology. 2nd Edn., Penguin Books, London.
Rosenberg, M., 1965. Society and the Adolescent Self Image. 1st Edn., Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA., ISBN-10: 0691093350, pp: 326.
Ross, C.E. and B.A. Broh, 2000. The roles of self-esteem and the sense of personal control in the academic achievement process. Soc. Educ., 73: 270-284.
Direct Link |
Schmidt, J.A. and B. Padilla, 2003. Self-esteem and family challenge: An investigation of their effects on achievement. J. Youth Adolescence, 32: 37-46.
Direct Link |
Soliman, S., 1979. The acceptance of superior and retarded sons and the parents attitudes toward their academic achievement and its relationship with anxiety. Unpublished Master's thesis, The Girls College, Ain Shams University, Egypt.
Spielberger, C.D., R.L. Gorsuch, P.R. Lushene, P.R. Vagg and A.G. Jacobs, 1983. Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y): (Self-Evaluation Questionnaire). Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA.
Stamatakis, K.A., J. Lynch, S.A. Everson and T. Raghunathan et al., 2003. Self esteem and mortality: Prospective evidence from a population-based study. Ann. Epidemiol., 14: 58-65.
Trautwein, U., O. Ludtke, O. Koller and J. Baumert, 2006. Self-esteem, academic self-concept and achievement: How the learning environment moderates the dynamics of self-concept. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol., 90: 334-349.
Direct Link |
Verkuyten, M. and P. Brug, 2002. Ethnic identity achievement, self-esteem and discrimination among Surinamese adolescents in the Netherlands. J. Black Psychol., 28: 122-141.
CrossRef | Direct Link |
Westaway, M.S. and L. Wolmarans, 1992. Depression and self-esteem: Rapid screening for depression in black, low literacy, hospitalized tuberculosis patients. Soc. Sci. Med., 35: 1311-1315.
Wiest, D.J., E.H. Wong and D.A. Kreil, 1998. Predictors of global self-worth and academic performance among regular education, learning disabled and continuation high school students. Adolescence, 22: 601-618.
Direct Link |
Wiggins, J. and E.L. Schatz, 1994. The relationship of self-esteem to grades, achievement scores and other factors critical to school success. School Counselor, 41: 239-244.
Direct Link |
Wong, M.S.W. and D. Watkins, 2001. Self-esteem and ability grouping: A Hong Kong investigation of the big fish little pond effect. Educ. Psychol. Int. J. Exp. Educ. Psychol., 21: 79-87.
Direct Link |