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Susan Sprecher

Mentor Department



We are a nation that emphasizes healthy self-esteem, and research indicates that there are many benefits of having a high self-esteem, including confidence, good physical and mental health, and better relationships (Seok & Park, 2021). Not everyone, however, has high self-esteem. There are many factors that contribute to having a high self-esteem, including early family experiences, acceptance from peers, and accomplishments (Cast & Burke, 2002; Schwalbe & Staples, 1991). While some of these factors contributing to self-esteem may be under people’s control, other factors that affect self-esteem are not. Research has shown that one’s physical attractiveness (which can be argued is somewhat out of one’s control) contributes to self-esteem, with people who are more physically attractive reporting higher self-esteem (Seok & Park, 2021). Our research team (working under the direction of Dr. Susan Sprecher) is conducting secondary analyses of a few items from a large data set (N = 8493) collected over many years at ISU. Included in the survey distributed to the same sociology class over many years were two items on overall self-esteem (from the Rosenberg [1965] self-esteem scale), two items on selfreported physical attractiveness (e.g., “I am a physically attractive person”), and one item asking about whether one was overweight. We first extend a prior publication from these data (Sprecher, Brooks, & Avogo, 2013) but with more data collected, to examine gender and race differences in overall self-esteem, self-perceived physical attractiveness, and perceptions of being overweight. Second, and as a new contribution, we examine the association between selfesteem and self-ratings of physical attractiveness in the total sample as well as in different groups. Preliminary results indicated that men rated themselves higher on physical attractiveness than did women (t = 7.45; p < .001). Furthermore, men were less likely than women to view themselves as overweight (t = 11.17; p < .001) and men reported higher self-esteem than women (t = 8.29; p < .001). In preliminary analyses concerning race, African Americans scored higher on self-esteem (t = 9.51; p < .001) and on self-perception of physical attractiveness (t = 13.85; p < .001) than did Whites. Self-esteem was highly correlated with self-reported physical attractiveness for the total sample (r =.65; p < .001). However, perceived physical attractiveness was more highly correlated with self-esteem for women (r = .68; p < .001) than for men (r =.59; p < .001). Other results will be presented in the poster.

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