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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A critical incidents study of self esteem Boychuck, Randy David


The intent of this study was twofold. It was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an experiential program which' purportedly enhanced self esteem in gay men. In addition, it aimed to discover what events and human experiences facilitate self esteem. The eight gay male participants who volunteered for the self esteem program were also employed to obtain data which was used to discover factors which facilitate self esteem. Flanagan's (1954) critical incidents technique was used to discover what facilitates and hinders self esteem in everyday life. A category system of factors facilitating self esteem was induced from critical incidents data obtained in a preliminary interview and from a journal of significant events which participants submitted throughout their involvement in the program. The program evaluation was based on three sources of information. The participants were compared with a control group of eight gay males on Rosenberg's (1965) Scale of Self Esteem both before and after their involvement in the program. They were also subjects in preliminary and summary, open-ended, interviews which were designed to assess changes in self esteem and to discern the degree to which initially stated goals and expectations were fulfilled by their participation in the program. In addition, critical incidents questions in the summary interview assessed how, and the degree to which, the program incorporated the factors which facilitate self esteem in everyday life. The names given to the eighteen categories of behaviours, events and/or experiences which were found to facilitate self esteem in everyday life are as follows: appreciation, affiliation, recognition, acceptance, honesty, self acceptance, self support, forgiveness, contributing, performance, confidence, accomplishment, sense of progress, overcoming, self care, belonging, social comparison, and independence. Given the exploratory and descriptive nature of this study, these factors constitute an initial model of what facilitates self esteem that needs to be tested using appropriate methods of verification. Interview data indicated that the experiential program facilitated the self esteem of seven of the program's eight participants. One participant reported that self esteem remained unchanged from the preliminary interview. Participants described six primary types of change: increased self confidence; increased self acceptance; improved capacity to engage in, strengthen and maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships; increased self knowledge; improved self discipline; and resolutions to existential questions. In addition, summary interview data revealed that participants were able to specify experiences, activities and events occurring within the context of the program which were representative of every facilitative category. Moreover, the relative absence of reported hindering incidents indicates that the hindering effect of the program on self esteem is negligible. Quantitative results did not corroborate the qualitative evidence for increased self esteem. An analysis of covariance applied to self esteem scores did not produce a significant difference between the participants and a control group.

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