In this University of Michigan led study, Jerald Bachman, Patrick O’Malley, et alia, of the Institute for Social Research, publish their findings from large-scale (over 100,000 cases per grade studied) representative surveys from 8th, 10th and 12th graders across the United States on self-esteem. My comments follow the quoted text (italics).
We then present multivariate analyses showing how subgroup differences in self-esteem are affected by adjustments for differences in parental education, grade point averages, and college plans. Finally, we examine subgroup differences in proportions with the highest possible self-esteem scores, and consider the extent to which subgroup differences change when the response scale is truncated to reduce the effects of extreme response tendencies.
In terms of racial/ethnic difference “In particular, and consistent with Hypothesis 1, African Americans are most likely to score at the top of the self-esteem scale whereas Asian Americans are least likely to do so (with 8th-grade males as the sole exception). These differences are highly statistically significant, as can be seen in the next section when we compare mean scores (including confidence intervals) across subgroups.
Asian-American students report the highest average GPAs, college aspirations, and parental education. Because these factors all contribute to high self-esteem, one might reasonably expect that Asian-American students would have relatively high self-esteem scores. In fact, however, they do not. We saw earlier, in Figure 1, that Asian-American students are the least likely to have top self-esteem scores—although most Asian-American students score at least above the midpoint on the self-esteem scale. The mean scores in Table 1 tell a similar story: Asian-American females have the lowest mean self-esteem scores of any subgroup, and Asian-American males generally score lower than other males. These differences grow larger as students progress from 8th to 10th and then 12th grade. Of course, when GPA, college plans, and parental education are taken into account, the adjusted self-esteem scores for Asian-Americans are even lower, especially among females.
In sum, the multivariate analyses show that controlling for GPA, college plans, and parental education enhances rather than eliminates racial/ethnic differences in self-esteem. African-American self-esteem scores, already highest among the subgroups, are even higher after controls. Asian-American scores, already lowest, become still lower. Only in comparisons between Whites and Hispanics does the multivariate adjustment tend to reduce (or reverse) the initially small differences in self-esteem scores. On the whole, then, these multivariate findings are consistent with Hypothesis 3. As for gender differences, within all four racial/ethnic subgroups at all three grades, the females average slightly higher in GPAs and college expectations compared with males; nevertheless, in nearly all instances the females do not rate themselves as highly as males in the self-esteem items. So the multivariate analyses consistently adjust female self-esteem scores downward when compared with males. These findings on gender differences are all consistent with Hypothesis 4. Finally, it should be kept in mind that although the race/ethnicity/gender differences are significant and fairly consistent across grades, an adolescent’s self-esteem appears to be more strongly associated with GPA and college plans than with race/ethnicity or gender.
The glossing over of some fairly damning statistical evidence of a culture saturated in racial degradation is most evident in the claim that in general “self-esteem appears to be more strongly associated with GPA and college plans than with race/ethnicity or gender,” without noting the salient exception of the group with the highest GPAs, highest college aspirations, best educated parents (and I might add), most intact homes, fewest divorces per capita, and highest household incomes, “because these factors all contribute to high self-esteem, one might reasonably expect that Asian-American students would have relatively high self-esteem scores. In fact, however, they do not. We saw earlier, in Figure 1, that Asian-American students are the least likely to have top self-esteem scores.”
The authors’ sweeping generalization takes the issue of pervasive anti-Asian themes in media and sweeps it under the rug. The only reason their claim isn’t outright fraudulent is the fact that the vast majority of survey responses belong to Whites, Blacks, and Latinos. Hell, in making a statement in a generalized sense, you could be talking about the white respondents alone, comprising 2/3 of the survey respondents.