Confidence and aspirations: Self-esteem and self-concepts as predictors of students' life goals


  • The author wishes to thank the Presidents of the seven colleges for their support and encouragement, the Seven College Study Advisory Board, Campus Coordinators, and staff for their contributions to the study, and the students of the seven colleges for their interest and participation The author also would like to express her appreciation for the support of the staff and resources of the Henry A Murray Research Center of Radcliffe College This research was supported in part by a grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr Foundation

and requests for reprints should be sent to Dr Diana M Zuckerman, U S House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations and Human Resources, B372 Rayburn Office Building, Washington, DC 20515


Research was conducted to assess sex differences in college students' self-esteem and self-concepts, and the extent to which students' self-perceptions predict their life goals Questionnaires that included the Rosenberg Scale, Texas Social Behavior Inventory, self-concepts, life goals, and demographic and family backgrounds were completed by 804 women from seven colleges and 127 men from two colleges Men and women did not differ significantly in their self-esteem and interpersonal self-confidence, but the men rated themselves higher on math/science ability, leadership/public speaking ability, and coping/self-sufficiency Women's global self-esteem scores and interpersonal self-confidence did not predict their life goals, but women's greater self-confidence in masculine spheres predicted higher educational goals and their ranking of future careers as a more important priority in their lives Men's interpersonal self-confidence predicted their ranking time for future spouses as a high priority and time for themselves as a lower priority Men's global self-esteem and leadership/public speaking ability self-concept predicted preferences for full-time career involvement when their future children are very young Different demographic variables also predicted men's and women's goals Implications of these sex differences and predictive relationships are discussed