The relationship between gender, dating, and self-esteem in high school students

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McDonald, Donna L.
Dixon, David N.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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The purpose of this study was to replicate the findings of McDonald and McKinney (1988) who found a significant relationship between low self-esteem and exclusive dating among high school students. Its purpose was also to study components that might lead an adolescent with low self-esteem to seek a steady dating relationship and to discern if any gender differences in this compensation occurred. Measures designed to determine: activity involvement; dating status; the person (parent or peer) an adolescent was most likely to talk to; and self-esteem were administered to 122 high school students. Analysis did not replicate the original findings by McDonald and McKinney. Also the only variable found to have a significiant interaction with self-esteem was activity involvement. Interesting gender differences were found in the relationship between who a person talks to and dating style. Boys, who were involved in an exclusive or steady dating relationship, were significantly more likely to turn to peers for conversation than were boys not involved in this type of dating. No such relationship existed for girls, however. It is hypothesized that population differences lead to the non-replication of the previous study and that for some boys, intimacy may only be found in the dating relationship.