Self-esteem and assertiveness of adult Mormon women

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1982
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

A number of theorists with commitments to the women's movement have stated that the traditional sex-role for women results in low self-esteem. The remedy which they advocate is for women to enter into the male-dominated workforce, and by successfully asserting themselves gain power, prestige, wealth, and an increase in self-esteem. Other theorists have stated that assertiveness training can help women to both increase in assertiveness and in self-esteem. Empirical studies, however, have been inconclusive as to whether assertiveness and self-esteem are positively correlated.

The present study examines self-esteem and assertiveness in a sample of Mormon women, a group which advocates the traditional sex-role, to see if their level of assertiveness, their level of self-esteem, and the correlation between the two variables for them would be any different than for the non-Mormon women living in their area. Samples for both groups in the Roanoke, Virginia area were selected and surveyed by mail using the Rathus Assertiveness Schedule, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

The first hypothesis that the Mormon sample would be significantly less assertive than the non-Mormon women was not supported, although for all but the working mothers the Mormons were slightly less assertive. The second hypothesis that there would be no significant difference in self-esteem for the two groups was supported. In fact, the Mormons scored slightly higher than the non-Mormons in self-esteem. The third hypothesis that the correlation of the means of the two variables would be significantly less for the Mormon sample was supported at the .05 level; however, for both groups the correlation between assertiveness and self-esteem was very high, reaching a significance level of .0001.

The results of this study lend support to the theorists and researchers who contend that assertiveness and self-esteem are positively correlated. They also lend support to the Mormons who claim that the traditional sex-role is not detrimental to self-esteem, and that a woman can be successful in that role and have adequate selfesteem without being highly assertive. The finding that there is a very high correlation even for the Mormon women between self-esteem and assertiveness was interpreted to mean that the traditional sex-role too requires a number of the social skills which comprise assertiveness, and that the Mormons may be teaching their women some of these skills when they socialize them to be successful in the traditional role.

The results of this study also lend support to the symbolic interactional theoretical framework that self-esteem comes not from the role in which one chooses to perform or even from the success one has in fulfilling that role, but, rather, from one's perception of the value of the role and one's perception of one's success in fulfilling the role.

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