Socialization and Adolescent Self-esteem: Symbolic Interaction and Social Learning Explanations


Self-esteem, Adolescents, socialization


Two contemporary theoretical explanations of adolescent self-esteem, symbolic interaction and social learning, were investigated and compared. Special attention focused on the relative magnitude of effect a selected cluster of variables, representing each explanation, had on four dimensions of self-esteem, namely, self-esteem worth self-derogation, positive self-esteem, and self-esteem power. A stratified random sample of 184 families with adolescents was taken. Self-report data were gathered from the sample. Multiple regression and multiple partial correlation coefficient were the statistical procedures employed. The findings suggest that in 9 out of 12 dyad-dimension comparisons wherein the desired level of significance was obtained, symbolic interaction variables, as well as social learning variables, were simultaneously contributing to the overall variance of adolescent self-esteem. The general conclusion emerging from this study was then an examination of the antecedents of adolescent self-esteem from one theoretical perspective, while excluding the other, limits are understanding of the phenomena. Therefore, this research posits that if observed variation is to be accounted for, then it is inevitable that a middle range theoretical framework be constructed.

Original Publication Citation

"Socialization and Adolescent Self-esteem: Symbolic Interaction and Social Learning Explanations," Adolescence 18 (Summer):317-319 (with D.K. Openshaw and B.C. Rollins)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Religious Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor