Friday, April 01, 2011

Race and self-esteem

In The Perils of Diversity, Byron Roth challenges the multiculturist argument that minority groups must preserve their cultures to prop up self-esteem by citing research which failed to find group differences.

Let's look at the question with Add Health data. Students were asked how frequently do they feel they are just as good as anyone else. Answers ranged from "never/rarely" (0) to "most/all of the time" (3). Here are means:

Mean self-worth scores

Whites 1.98
Blacks 1.92
Asians 1.73*
Mexican Americans 1.61*

* significantly lower than whites

While blacks and whites--the two groups usually studied--don't differ significantly, Asians and Mexican Americans have lower averages.

Why? This is a sample of adolescents.  Blacks and whites are more likely to be popular. This seems to be due to greater athleticism, extraversion, and more interesting personalities. I also suspect that whites and black males are perceived as more attractive.  Self-esteem seems to be, in part, a reflection of reality. A Mexican American is more likely to have low self-worth because he doesn't compare well to others and lacks traits that are valued. It might be the case that whites and blacks get a self-esteem boost in schools with Mex-Am and Asian students. If I find time, I can test the hypothesis.


  1. Anonymous5:53 AM

    The answer is simple. Hispanics and Asians are shorter than Whites and Blacks.

  2. Teen self-esteem is dominated by sexual selection. In this situation Blacks and Hispanics are primary sexual competitors, as are Whites and Asians.

    The interesting question here is: "What are the dominating characters in sexual selection?"

  3. This is a common theme is the Steve-O-Sphere: that black men are handsome and desirable. They aren't.

    I think they're easily the least attractive of men. Virile and charasmatic, perhaps. But handsome, good-looking, dreamy? Not at all.

  4. Anonymous9:50 PM

    Sexual selection wouldn't explain the low self-esteem of Asian young people. While Asian males may rank fairly low, Asian females are sexually desirable to men of all races and therefore their high self-esteem ratings should counterbalance low Asian male ratings.


  5. Hmmm, idea for refining your results. Whites are the majority in most places. Control by location. Find a few locales where Whites are *not* the majority and calculate self-worth there.

  6. Mmm... I'd be interested to know the ratio of women to men and also the breakdown of the mean scores in relation to women and men only. I'm pretty sure there's something in this data, but then there's far too many factors... like whether the students are born and raised in America - if not, their self-esteem scores might be lower because of language issues and other pressures they feel.

  7. Anonymous5:17 PM

    I also wonder how high (or low) white self-esteem is in white minority schools.

  8. Anonymous3:47 PM

    Testosterone. Groups with more testosterone are more confident.

  9. In my own opinion, your computation is a little bias. I know that in every culture there are differences in their way of getting with other people and this could be the basis of their low or high self esteem. I know that growing with different cultures brings different level of self esteem. But if you grew up having a low self esteem then you should consider finding programs that can help you increase you self esteem. No matter how young or old you are you can still go to boarding schools, I'm sure they can give you the program you want for you to increase your self esteem.

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