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Self-Esteem and Sorority Membership


Holly Briggs
Oregon State University

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

Abstract
Research looking at the confidence in women being connected to their membership in a sorority
is very limited. This study looked at the interaction between sorority membership and selfesteem scores on the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSES). Women who were members to a
sorority showed no significant difference in self-esteem scores than women who were not
members in a sorority. Groups were invited to participate in an electronic survey that asked
demographic questions as well as the RSES questions. An individual variables t test was done on
the participants answers to observe the mean differences between the two groups. A purpose of
this study were to use the data to analyze confidence in women on the OSU campus then to use
the data in order to support the women whose scores show low self-esteem.

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

Self-esteem in women is a topic that has been researched greatly. Some of the different
factors that can influence self-esteem in women have been investigated in studies like Crocker
and Major (1989), Gramzow and Gaertner (2005), and Saville and Johnson (2007). These studies
looked at stigmas, social in-groups, group memberships, and year in school. A majority of
studies have looked at how womens self-esteem changes when apart of a group or when not
apart of a group. Most of these studies choose to use the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) as
a measure of self-esteem (e.g., Crocker & Major 1989; Gramzow & Gaertner 2005; Saville &
Johnson 2007).
In one study, Saville and Johnson (2007) explored the concept of a disparity in selfesteem between seniors and freshman in college. The study looked at 160 women, 50 freshman
and 45 sophomores and 28 seniors, who took the RSES in an introductory psychology class.
There was no difference between freshman and junior women or any other groups but a lower
mean was seen between freshman and seniors. The mean difference seen here was not dependent
upon Greek membership. The significant difference was seen that freshman had lower selfesteem scores on the RSES than seniors did. Saville and Johnson (2007) equated this difference
to stem from a seniors sense of belonging and being accustomed to college demands they will
have gained over time, which the freshman have not had time to acquire.
Being apart of a group causes you to take on traits of the group members therefore rating
their group higher than the out groups. Sorority membership would provide participants with an
in-group and enhance their self-esteem by giving members an adequate social comparison
(Luhtanen & Crocker 1992). Studies like these look at a persons collective identity. Collective
self can be defined as the part of the self-concept that is based on membership in social groups.
People will identify with a group and then rate their group high therefore their self-esteem rating

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

would increase. Considering this, a rating of high self-esteem will enhance the prejudice toward
their group (Gramzow & Gaertner 2005). This study goes on to say that positive self-evaluation
increases that of the in-group but not the out-groups. These studies have been modified to look at
the stigmas of a group increasing or decreasing a groups self-evaluation (Crocker & Major
1989). Groups that have visually labeling stigmas, like sex or race, are more likely to increase
the level of in-group comparison for similarity. Using the RSES to evaluate levels of self-esteem
can have third variables, like being unable to count group memberships a person has or a
difference in culture. As an extension of this thought Supple, Su, Plunkett, Peterson, and Bush
(2012) investigated the cultural validity of the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale. Their research
concluded that cultural differences must be controlled to reduce biased conclusions. While
controlling for cultural barriers studies should end unbiased. This Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale
is used to measure self-esteem in many different groups of people. Its convergent and
discriminant validity has been examined by using it along with four other tests to assess the
global self-esteem and stability of self-concept in 44 college students (Rosenberg 1979).
Conclusions were that the test was valid because it was able to predict low self-esteem in
accordance with depressive affect, anxiety, and peer-group reputation.
Given the information on stigmas and social in groups the purpose of this study was to
extend the research and observe these trends on Oregon State Universitys campus. There will be
a difference in self-esteem scores between sorority members and not sorority members. Sorority
members will have a higher score than those participants that are not involved. Studies have
showed that ones personal self-esteem is correlated to an evaluation of ones self in a social group
(Lutanen and Crocker 1992). Having a social group to evaluate personal traits with would
increase ones self-esteem because they are apart of a collective self as well. This study does state

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

the social group needs to have a positive in-group evaluation for members to evaluate their
collective selves as positive.
Method
Participants
Participants were college women (N=39) at a medium sized, public research university in
Oregon that houses 30,058 students. Participants were either women involved in Greek life
(N=30) or women not involved with Oregon State Universitys Greek life community (N=9).
The participants ages ranged from 18-23 and there were 5 freshmen (under 44 credits), 9
sophomores (45-89 credits), 10 juniors (90-134 credits), and 15 seniors (above 135 credits).
Participants were able to volunteer to participate in this study and they were not compensated for
participation.
Materials
The Rosenberg Self-esteem (RSE) scale was used to measure self-esteem in women on
the Oregon State University campus. This is a 10-item self-esteem scale that has been used in a
variety of adults (Ciarrochi, J., and Bilich, L. 2006). Construct, convergent, and dicriminant
validity of the RSE was measured by observing its ability to measure self-esteem in relation to
depressive affect, anxiety, and peer-group reputation as well as comparing the correlations
between the RSE and a self-image questionnaire (Rosenberg 1979). 44 college students were
assessed for two traits by the RSE, a self-image questionnaire, and a psychiatrists rating then the
correlation between the two scores were recorded. They showed a correlation of r=.83 for the
self-image questionnaire and r=.56 for psychiatrists rating. Thus providing evidence for the
validity of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

Participants took this survey on their own computers, at any time of their convenience.
The survey was distributed using a link to the Qualtrics Software. The questions were written out
and there were options that correlated to the questions, there is a sample of the survey in
Appendix A. The informed consent document can be seen in Appendix B, participants were
given an I consent or an I do not contest option after reading the explanation of research.
Scoring took place after the surveys had been completed. There were 10 self-esteem evaluating
questions and 4 demographic questions. Creating the sum of all the values from each question
scores the Rosenberg Self-esteem scale. Summing the answers is done after reverse scoring the
negatively worded items, which are questions 2, 5, 6, 8, and 9 on the RSE (Ciarrochi and Bilich
2006).
Procedure
A link to the questionnaire was posted to Facebook with the message Hey! Ladies of
Oregon State University! I am doing research to study the difference in self-esteem between
Greek and non-Greek affiliated OSU female students. This means that if you identify as a
women and are an Oregon State student please take this survey! It is anonymous meaning I will
not know who's responses I am looking at. After one day of the survey being open and
announced on Facebook another post saying, Hello again! take this survey if you are an Oregon
State student and identify as a female! you DO NOT have to be in greek life was made.
Participants who chose to take the survey answered the Rosenberg self-esteem questions as well
as 4 demographic questions and the informed consent form. After the RSE questions were
answered on a 4-point Likert-type scale, using strongly agree/disagree, disagree, and agree as the
points, the questionnaires were scored with five of the ten questions reverse scored. A score
could range from 10 (high self-esteem) and 40 (low self-esteem).

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

Results
In order to evaluate the hypothesis that sorority membership is a predictor of scores on
the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, an analysis of variance for independent groups was applied.
Along with looking at membership as a predictor, age and racial identity was also analyzed as a
possible predictor. There was no significant difference between mean self-esteem scores for
sorority members (mean=19.90, SD=5.20) and non-sorority members (mean=20.00, SD=4.72).
A p-value of .957 was found for the difference in means between sorority and non-sorority
members. A table of the group statistics as well as the independent samples t-test can be found in
Appendix C.
There was no significant interaction between age and self esteem scores (p=.759, r=.051).
The connection between age and membership was analyzed by looking at the correlation that
also showed no significant difference (p=.349, r=-.154). No significant difference between score
and year in school with a p-value of .796 (r=.-043) When the correlations table, presented in
Appendix D, was produced there was a correlation of .787 with a p-value of .0001 between age
and year in school.
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to investigate the idea that women in sororities become
less confident due to being in a situation, like Greek life, where you are judged and constantly
asked to justify the decision to join. Three participants surveys were not graded or used in these
statistical calculations because two participants did not answer every question in the RSES and
another survey was not scored because they did not give consent. A comparison between age and
year in school showed a statistically significant correlation only because generally if a student
identifies as a junior they fall with in a typical age range. This data has no influence on our

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP

hypothesis of membership to a sorority increasing a womans score on the Rosenberg SelfEsteem Scale. In all other types of comparison there was no statistically significant data that
supported the hypothesis. Membership, age of member, nor year in school affected participants
self-esteem scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
The members and the non-members had mean scores that were extremely close to one
another. There was no variation seen between year in school or age. One study found that there
was a statistically significant difference in RSES scores between seniors and freshman,
regardless of Greek affiliation (Saville and Johnson 2007). The present results contrast those and
show there is no significant difference between freshman and senior scores. Studies by Crocker
and Major could be influential in this case. They looked at stigma and the value of a persons
score of collective self on personal self-esteem. Data showing no correlation between the
variable of membership and self-esteem score does not support the theory that people who
identify as part of a group would have higher self-esteem. Further research could be done at
Oregon State University to see what the stigma against Greek life is and observe if that plays a
role in the self-esteem of Greek affiliated students.
The data collected is important to Oregon State University because it shows the selfesteem scores of many students at OSU. The data also allows the university to assess how well
Greeks and non-Greek members may be interacting. Research like this could be further expanded
to investigate the self-esteem of other sororities on campus. All Greek affiliated participants in
this study were apart of Kappa Delta Sorority, with no other representatives from other
Panhellenic houses the data could be biased.

SELF-ESTEEM AND SORORITY MEMBERSHIP


Appendix A
What is your age? (Select one)
18
19
20
21
22
23+
If applicable, what sorority, on the Oregon State University campus, are you a member of? (Select one)
Alpha Gamma Delta
Alpha Omicron Pi
Alpha Phi
Alpha Chi Omega
Chi Omega
Delta Delta Delta
Delta Gamma
Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Delta
Kappa Kappa Gamma
Sigma Kappa
Other
What year in school are you? (Select one)
Freshman (under 45 credits)
Sophomore (45-90 credits)
Junior (90-135 credits)
Senior (135-180+ credits)
What race do you identify as? Please enter an answer.
Please record the appropriate answer for each item, depending on whether you Strongly agree, agree, disagree, or
strongly disagree with it.
1 = Strongly agree
2 = Agree
3 = Disagree
4 = Strongly disagree
_____ 1. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
_____ 2. At times I think I am no good at all.
_____ 3. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
_____ 4. I am able to do things as well as most other people.
_____ 5. I feel 1do not have much to be proud of.
_____ 6. I certainly feel useless at times.
_____ 7. I feel that I'm a person of worth.
_____ 8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.
_____ 9. All in all, I am inclined to think that I am a failure.
_____ 10. I take a positive attitude toward myself.

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Appendix B
EXPLANATION OF RESEARCH
Project Title:
Principal Investigator:
Student Researcher:
Sponsor:
Version Date:

Self-esteem in College Women Associate with Greek Life


Dr. Mei Lien
Holly Briggs
Oregon State University
May 7, 2015

Purpose: You are being asked to take part in a research study. The purpose of this research
study is to determine if there is a difference in self-esteem levels between women involved in
Greek life at Oregon State University compared to women on campus who are not involved in
Greek life. This study is being conducted to complete the PSY 301 class requirements.
Activities: The study activities include the completion of a 14-question survey. You will answer
3 multiple choice questions about yourself, 1 short answer question, and 10 questions based on a
scale starting at strongly agree and ending at strongly disagree, also known as the Rosenberg
self-esteem scale. Once you have answered these questions they will be scored to analyze your
self-esteem level.
Time: Your participation in this study will last as long as it takes you to answer the 14-questions.
Risks: The possible risks and/or discomforts associated with the being in the study include the
chance that information collected online can be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late
or incomplete, or contain viruses. There may also be risks related to the study procedures that are
not yet known to the researchers.
Benefit: We do not know if you will benefit from being in this study. However, the community
will be able to use this information to understand how the self-esteem of Oregon State University
women works.
Payment: You will not be paid for being in this research study
Confidentiality: Your participation in this study is anonymous.
Voluntary: Participation in this study is voluntary. Answering all questions is required, while
your participation in the study is voluntary, all questions must be answered in order for your
individual responses to be included in the study results. Your decision to take part or not take
part in this study will not affect your grades, your relationship with your professors, or standing
in the University.
Study contacts: If you have any questions about this research project, please contact: Holly
Briggs at briggsh@onid.oregonstate.edu. If you have questions about your rights or welfare as a
participant, please contact the Oregon State University Institutional Review Board (IRB) Office,
at (541) 737-8008 or by email at IRB@oregonstate.edu

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Appendix C
Group Statistics
What sorority on the Oregon
State Campus are you a
member of? If you are not
affiliated with Gree...
score

None
Kappa Delta

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

20.0000

5.19615

1.73205

30

19.9000

4.72229

.86217

Independent Samples Test


Levene's Test for
Equality of Variances

t-test for Equality of Means


95% Confidence
Interval of the

F
scor Equal variances
e

assumed
Equal variances
not assumed

Sig.
.040

.842

t
.054

df

Sig. (2-

Mean

Std. Error

tailed)

Difference

Difference

Difference
Lower

Upper

37

.957

.10000

1.83518

-3.61843

3.81843

.052 12.248

.960

.10000

1.93477

-4.10605

4.30605

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Appendix D


Correlations
What sorority on
the Oregon
State Campus
are you a
member of? If

What is your age? (select

Pearson Correlation

one)

Sig. (2-tailed)
N

What year are you in school? Pearson Correlation


(select one)

Sig. (2-tailed)
N

you are not

age? (select

you in school?

affiliated with

one)

(select one)

Gree...

score

**

-.154

.051

.000

.349

.759

39

39

39

39

**

-.226

-.043

.167

.796

.787

.787

.000
39

39

39

-.154

-.226

-.009

.349

.167

39

39

39

39

Pearson Correlation

.051

-.043

-.009

Sig. (2-tailed)

.759

.796

.957

39

39

39

Pearson Correlation

State Campus are you a

Sig. (2-tailed)

member of? If you are not

affiliated with Gree...

N
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

What year are

39

What sorority on the Oregon

score

What is your

.957

39

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References
Ciarrochi, J., & Bilich, L. (2006). Process measures of potential relevance to ACT. Unpublished
thesis, University of Wollongong, Australia.
Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1989). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of
stigma. Psychological review, 96(4), 608.
Gramzow, R. H., & Gaertner, L. (2005). Self-esteem and favoritism toward novel in-groups: the
self as an evaluative base. Journal of personality and social psychology, 88(5), 801. DOI:
10.1037/0022
Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J. (1992). A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one's social
identity. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 18(3), 302-318.
Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the Self. New York: Basic Books.
Saville, B. K., & Johnson, K. B. (2007). YEAR IN COLLEGE AND SORORITY
MEMBERSHIP IN PREDICTING SELF-ESTEEM OF A SAMPLE OF COLLEGE
WOMEN 1. Psychological reports, 101(3), 907-912.
Supple, A. J., Su, J., Plunkett, S. W., Peterson, G. W., & Bush, K. R. (2012). Factor Structure of
the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,
doi:0022022112468942.