The purpose of this present study was to examine several empirical studies in the relation to a set of self-esteem variables (ethnic identity, acculturation, and language) and academic achievement of adolescents and emerging adulthood from mainstream United States and three diverse ethnic groups (South Koreans, African Americans and Latinos). The findings and implications of the study including recommendations for future research in this area are discussed.
Self-Esteem and Academic Achievement
Research shows that academic performance influences a person's self-esteem, but it is still debatable whether self-esteem along with ethnic identity, acculturation and language influence academic achievement (Cavazos-Rehg & DeLucia-Waack, 2009). The National Association for Self-esteem states that self-esteem is a highly desirable quality because it is a central psychological source of positive behavior. That is, positive behavior is a result of high self-esteem (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003).
Self-esteem is commonly regarded as the positive or negative attitude a person has towards the concept of the self (Rosenberg, 1979). One of the most common ways to measure the self-esteem is the Rosenberg (1979) Self-esteem Scale (RSES). The RSES is a well-established measure with high reliability and validity, which measures self-esteem on the basis of variables such as ethnic identity, acculturation and language. In general, the higher the degree of ethnic identity, acculturation and language fluency the higher the self-esteem a person will obtain (Cavazos-Rehg & DeLucia-Waack, 2009).
Ethnic identity is defined on the “magnitude to which an individual appreciates and actively engages in his or her own cultural values, traditions, beliefs and behaviors predict the extent of self-esteem” (Cavazos-Rehg & DeLucia-Waack, 2009, p. 2). In other words, ethnic identity is a part of a person’s self-concept that must hold value and emotional significance to a social group such as Korean, American, Mexican, Chinese and etc (Phinney, 1995).
Acculturation is instead “a process that happens when two autonomous groups are in indirect contact with one another and results in changes of the original culture of either or both of the cultures” (Cavazos-Rehg & DeLucia-Waack, 2009, p. 2). Garcia-Vasquez (1995) describes how minority individuals adopt the culture of the more dominant group, with consequences on self-esteem. In particular, when one dominant culture comes into contact with a new culture, there may be assimilation or accommodations in the more dominant culture. These assimilations or accommodations may be adopting values, beliefs or even life styles. When acculturated, people tend to have higher self-esteem because they are able to adapt to their surroundings, such as being able to socialized and interact within their new community. Those that do not acculturate might have lower self-esteem because they cannot communicate well with others (Cavazos-Rehg &...