Relationship Between Self-esteem And Locus Of Control Among Well Functioning Adolescents


Relationship Between Self-esteem And Locus Of Control Among Well Functioning Adolescents


This study investigated the relationship between self-esteem and locus of control among well-functioning Adolescents. A total of 100 Adolescents (55 males and 45 females) selected from senior secondary school were used. The participants were within the age range of 15-19 years with a mean age of 17 years. Three set of instrument comprising self-esteem test (Adenyo & Oyefoso 1985) Locus of control test (Criag, Franklin & Andrew 1984) and Kohn, Brien-wood, pukening & Decicco (2003) were used. Correlational research design was adopted while Pearson product moment statistic was used for data analysis. Finding showed that a significant positive relationship exist between high self-esteem and internal locus of control [r(98) = 0.87, P<.01]. Finding was discussed in relation to the literature reviewed and recommendations were also made.




Adolescents experience many problems, including teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use/abuse and violence, school failure and eating disorder (Callalian, & Stein 2003). The extent and seriousness of these problems may cause social scientists, policy makers and parents to overlook youth who are well functioning: teens that excel in school, have positive family and peer relationships, and have minimal participation in behaviors such as stated above. (Demon, 2004; Moore et al., 2004).

Adolescent has been described as a phase of life beginning in biology and ending in society (Peterson, 1988). Indeed, adolescent may be defined as the period within the life span when most of a person’s biological, cognitive, psychological and social characteristics are changing from what is typically considered child-like to what is considered adult-like (Learner and Spainer, 1980). For adolescents’, this period is a dramatic challenge, one requiring adjustment to changes in the self, in the family, and in the peer group. In contemporary society, adolescent experience institutional changes as well. Among young adolescents, there is a change in school setting, typically involving a transition from elementary school to either junior high school or middle school; and in late adolescence there is a transition from high school to the worlds of work, University or childrearing.

Adolescent is a time of excitement and of anxiety, of happiness and of troubles, of discovery and of bewilderment, and of breaks with the past and yet of links with the future. Adolescence can be a confusing time – for the adolescent experiencing this phase of life; for the parents who are nurturing the adolescent during his or her progression through this period; for adults charged with enhancing the development of youth during this period of life, and with disturbing, historically unprecedented frequency – for adolescents who themselves find themselves in the role of parents. When we searched the literature it became clear that the vast majority of adolescent research reported on the causes and correlates of problem behaviors (Shagle and Barber, 1995; Small and Luster, 1994; Pick and Palos, 1995).

Most research on adolescent focuses on specific problem behaviors, whereas few studies examine the avoidance of multiple forms of risk taking or the determinants of positive development (Moore and Glei, 1995). Positive youth development approach helps in enhancing adolescent development, and for helping youth reach their full potential. This approach recognizes that all adolescents have strengths and that children and youth will develop in positive ways when these strengths are aligned with resources for healthy development in the various settings in which adolescent, live and interact.

Research indicates that the more exposure that adolescents have to positive resources and experiences and where synergy between multiple settings can be established – the more likely it is that they will develop, positively. Therefore, physical and institutional resources present in the social environment (for example, family support) are just as essential for promoting positive youth development as are individual assets (such as skills, talents, self-esteem and resiliency).  These resources provide adolescents with routines and structure, as well as opportunities for learning, recreation, and engagement with individuals and their communities.

Developmental scientists have suggested that positive youth development encompasses psychological, behavioral and social characteristics that reflect competence confidence, connection, character and caring compassion. A child or adolescent who develops each of these five features is considered to be thriving. Moreover, developmental scientists believe that these thriving youth develop a sixth one, which is contribution to self, family, community, and civil society. These contributions or competence can be viewed in specific areas, including social, academic, cognitive, health and vocational. Social competence refers to interpersonal skills (such as conflict resolution).  Cognitive competence refers to cognitive abilities (e.g. decision making). Academic competence refers to school performance as shown, in part by school grades, attendance, and test scores. Health competence involves using nutrition, exercise, and rest to keep oneself fit. Vocational competence involves work habits and explorations of career choices. Moreso, these adolescents’ exhibit an internal sense of overall positive self worth and self-efficacy. They have positive bonds with people and institutions that are reflected in exchanges between the individual and his or her peers, family, school, relationship. Well functioning adolescents’ exhibit respect for societal and cultural norms, possession of standards for correct behaviors, a sense of right and wrong (morality) and integrity. They also have a sense of sympathy and empathy for others.

Who we are is largely defined by the experiences we have had and how we understand those experiences (McLean, 2007). There is growing evidence in the psychological literature that the narratives of one’s own personal experience are critical for identity and well-being. Individuals who are able to create more coherent and emotionally expressive narratives about stressful events subsequently show lower levels of depression, and anxiety (Fraittaroh 2000); adolescents who tell life narratives that are more redemptive, focusing on how good things emerged from bad, show higher levels of emotional well-being and higher levels of generativist, connecting in positive ways to the next generation (Mc Adams 2001).

Importantly, families that share stories, about parents and grandparents, about triumphs and failures, provide powerful models for children. Children understand whom they are in the world not only through their individual experiences but also through the filters of family stories that provide a sense of identity through historical time (Fivush 1999). Although this idea resonates in the social science literature, there is surprisingly little empirical research examining how knowledge of family stories is related to child outcome.

Several studies show that self-esteem influences academic performance (Clifford, 1964). Research has shown that self-esteem is a better predictor of academic success than measured intelligence (Clifford, 1964). Research aside; common sense dictates that our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors. Our behavior consequently influences our performance. Life is essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy. Common sense also dictates that a student who has self-doubt and lacks self-acceptance is unlikely to attain academic excellence.

How can a student establish challenging goals if he or she lacks a sense of self-competence or self-efficacy? How can a student concentrate fully on studies if he or she lacks self-approval? Indeed, research does show that underachievers are generally less confident and less ambitious (Goldberg, 1960), less self accepting (Shaw and Alves, 1963), and lack sense of personal worth (Durr and Schmatz, 1964).

Research also shows that feeling worthless can be depressing (Battle, 1990) and depression generally inhibits performance. As stated by Mark R. Leary and Deborah L. Downs (1999 p.112) “People who feel worthy, able and competent are more likely to achieve their goals than those who feel worthless, impotent and incompetent’’. Research also shows that academic achievement influences the level of self-esteem. Successful academic performance enhances self-esteem (Moore, 1996). Similarly, poor academic performance tends to erode students’ level of self-esteem (Gibby and Gibby 1967).

Furthermore, Locus of control, which is a personality construct, refers to an individual’s perception of the locus of events as determined internally by his or her own behaviour vs. fate, Luck or external circumstances. It is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on eventsoutside our personal control (external control orientation) (Zimbardo, 1985). In general, it seems to be psychologically healthy to perceive that one has control over those things, which one is capable of influencing.


The purpose of this study is to determine whether there will be a significant positive relationship between high self-esteem and internal locus of control among well functioning adolescents.


The problem of inferiority complex among adolescents is becoming alarming. Often times, we see adolescents doing things against their wish because most of their friends or peers supported that. This attitude makes them to blame society for their failure (external locus of control). Because the action was not their desire, there is every tendency that they will bear the blame. This pattern of life affects their development.

Due to this worry, the present study deem it necessary to know whether most of the adolescents who lack confidence in themselves will attribute their failures to society or themselves.

Therefore, the present study will give answer to this question; Will there be a significant  positive relationship between high self-esteem and internal locus of control?

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