Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Aspiring to Lead: An Investigation into the Interactions between Self-Esteem, Patriarchal Attitudes, Gender, and Christian Leadership

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Aspiring to Lead: An Investigation into the Interactions between Self-Esteem, Patriarchal Attitudes, Gender, and Christian Leadership

Article excerpt

Self-esteem has been linked to almost every aspect of people's lives including their leadership aspirations. This study tested the relationship between self-esteem, gender, and leadership aspirations and examined the potential interaction effect of patriarchal attitudes. Studies have found that women report lower levels of self-esteem than men. Men and women attending Christian bible colleges have reported differences in self-esteem compared to the general population, with male Christian bible college students reporting the highest levels of self-esteem (Bredfeldt, 1991). in the current study, we sought to replicate Bredfeldt's (1991) findings of gender differences in self-esteem among Christian men and women using a contemporary sample of 112 Evangelical Christian seminary students who completed the same measure of self-esteem used in the Bredfeldt study along with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. In addition, we examined the interaction between self-esteem, leadership aspirations and patriarchal attitudes. Although we found no differences in self-esteem between Christian men and women, our results supported the importance of self-esteem in determining leadership aspirations. However, the nature of the relationship between self-esteem and leadership aspirations was meaningfully affected by patriarchal attitudes and this effect differed by gender. Implications for the future of church leadership are discussed.

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Self-esteem has been defined as "the individual's positive or negative attitude toward the self as a totality" (Rosenberg, Schooler, Schoenbach, & Rosenberg, 1995, p. 141). It has been linked to almost every aspect of people's lives including depression (Cross & Madson, 1997; Trzesniewski, Donnellan, & Robins, 2003), antisocial behavior (Trzesniewski et al., 2003), sexual activity (Peterson & Hyde, 2010), bullying (Seals & Young, 2003), marital satisfaction (McMullin & Cairney, 2004; Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000; Pinquart & Sorensen, 2001; Postovoit, 1990), academic performance (DuBois & Flay, 2004), and leadership (Bass, 1960). Within the work domain, self-esteem has been linked to job satisfaction (Orth, Robins, & Widaman, 2012), job performance (Judge & Bono, 2001), and leadership (Yukl, 2006). There is reason to expect a similar link between self-esteem and levels of career aspiration (Gray & O'Brien, 2007; Greenwald et al., 2002; Hyde, 2005); however, a proliferation of varying protocols for measuring self-esteem has limited the ability to conduct meta-analytic research across divergent self-esteem measures (Hyde, 2005; Kling, Hyde, Showers, & Buswell, 1999; Pinquart & Sorensen, 2001). The current study explored the relationship between self-esteem, gender, patriarchal attitudes, and leadership aspirations.

Self-Esteem and Gender

Several studies have examined the relationship between gender and self-esteem with mixed results. The majority of the studies have found that women generally score lower than men on measures of self-esteem (Burnett, Anderson, & Heppner, 1995; Chubb, Fertman, & Ross, 1997; Cross & Madson, 1997; Frank, Towell, & Huyck, 1985; Furnham, Badmin, & Sneade, 2002; Josephs, Markus, & Tafarodi, 1992; Long, 1986; Pinquart & Sorensen, 2001; Robins, Trzesniewski, Tracy, Gosling, & Potter, 2002), though the difference has been small to very small (Hyde, 2005; Kling et al., 1999; Zell, Krizan, & Teeter, 2015). While researchers have suggested that women's lower self-esteem may be related to a variety of factors such as higher incidences of depression and other mental health problems (Cross & Madson, 1997; Eichenbaum & Orbach, 1983; Jack, 1993; Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000; Sanford & Donovan, 1984; Small, Teagno, & Selz, 1980; Trzesniewski et al., 2003), the current study focused on socially-constructed gender (Gergen, 1985; Unger, 1979) as it is associated with self-esteem. …

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