Test One – Self Esteem

January 5, 2011 at 7:42 am 1 comment

As per previous post, I am reading “The Psychologist’s book of personality tests” by Louis Janda (John Wiley & Sons 2001), and doing one test per day.

In the introduction Janda lays out the burden of mental illness (and you’ll be amazed to learn that no, he doesn’t ponder if maybe rampant consumerism and insecurity in employment and patent destruction of the biosphere has anything to do with the ever-climbing rates of mental illness. It’s just a given background noisy kind of thing. I have a friend doing a PhD using Wittgenstein’s notion of ‘grammar’ and how reality is perceived/explained. This is a pretty good example thereof.)

It is Janda’s hope that “this book will help you to begin the process of recognizing and overcoming your barriers to having a more satisfying and effective life.”
The bulk of the intro is taken up with very brief descriptions of what will be tested and why.
Then there are “A few words about Self-Report tests.” He says since they’re self-report they’re

“unlikely to tell you anything new about yourself, but rather to help you articulate and achieve a better understanding of the barriers that are standing in your way of a more satisfying and effective life, such as rapacious capitalism and an oppressive oligarchical government determined to squash or co-opt or divert any attempt at systemic change.”

Okay, I may have added a few words to the end of that quote.

And there’s another proviso –

“all of the tests in this book [have] norms … based on college students and not clinical patients. This means that no matter how high, or low, you score on any of the tests in this book, it would not be correct to conclude that you are mentally ill.”

Well, that no doubt will be a relief!!

Then we’ve got a few words about scoring (reverse scoring etc – it seems to have confused reviewers on Amazon) and norms and we’re away…

Self Esteem Rating Scale (Dr W Nugent)

Ah, it’s a 40 item test, with answers based on a seven point Likert scale from “Never to Always” and will need some reverse scoring…

What questions are rubbish
Well – all questions can be accused of being “rubbish”, can’t they. Because the answer can always be “depends”.
For example, here at Question 32 “I feel that I am a nice person”
Well, I can be, if I choose to be, but that is often NOT what I am aiming for – I am aiming to be effective, or honest. “Nice” is someone who goes with the flow. That can be good, or it can be [insert Godwin’s Law here] disastrous.
Or Question 38 – “I trust the competence of others more than I trust my own abilities.”
Well, I can’t cook, drive, sing etc. So if the task is many of the things I can’t do, or do really badly, then I would be clinically insane to trust my own abilities more. But if the task is putting together a newsletter, or reciting crap jokes, or various other things that I do pretty well, then shucks (twists big toe in sand, looks bashful) I trust myself. But where does that go on a Likert Scale?

What “skews” there might be
Extroverts are, I suspect, best off here.

What are the race, gender and class implications here
Dunno, can’t see, being a white middle class male. But in his post-test essay, Janda doesn’t address the torments of being told that your type of people (race, class, gender etc) are second or third rate, and the reactions that can cause…

What other scales exist?
Haven’t looked yet

Who are my favourite psychologists on this…
Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi

What do I think on this topic (of myself)
Well, it depends – on some things I am pretty good. On others, well, deep pools of self-loathing. I assume that my self-esteem will be in the top 20 percentile (I don’t think that’s a good thing!)

What do I think other people think
I assume most people will assume that I have pathological levels of self-esteem…

What score did I get
232- which puts me in about the 55th percentile… (Usual disclaimers apply).

What scores might I have gotten 20 years ago, or 20 years hence
Dunno. I ‘ve had some pretty hideous dips in self-esteem (warranted and unwarranted). Don’t know what score I’d get under those circumstances…

Ah, Janda is good on the whole over-boosting self-estem thing. “Children who are praised for their ability regardless of their work are likely to learn that not much is expected of them; they would have every reason to feel good about themselves even if they produce mediocre results.”

Apparently “psychologist Carol Dweck found that the performance of students who were given tasks that were too difficult to complete and were told that they had failed because they did not try hard enough improved more than students who were given easy tasks in order to encourage them to feel good about their ability. The moral of the story is clear – self-esteem should be earned, not provided unconditionally.”

Well, yes, but this is within an extraordinarily Calvinist mindset of “proving” yourself. In other cultures, your role/place in society is more important, more static. (Not that I am defending caste systems, just saying that this is not a “natural” thing…

Janda then lays out the Scylla and Charybdis of pathologically high and low self-esteem…
And pathologically high levels of self-esteem exist (people who think they shit gold) “Sometimes called defensive high self-esteem, the people with this quality seem to be capable of putting a positive spin on even the worst failures.

And he warns “I have known students who have a low opinion of their academic abilities who use their feelings as an excuse for giving up. They skip class, fail to prepare for tests, and then complain, “See, I just can’t hack it.”
Yep, prophylactic withdrawal of effort…

But no discussion of self-esteem/ego can be complete without this song, from the Skyhooks…

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Entry filed under: self-knowledge. Tags: , .

Testing times… Test Two: High Anxiety?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dwite wrights #1 «  |  January 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

    […] Timber“, where I’ve now taken 2 out of 24 psychological tests. So far I have in-the-middle self-esteem and low […]

    Reply

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