The Relationship Between Personality Types, Test Anxiety and Self-Esteem with regards to Academic Achievement


This study was performed to determine if there is a relationship between personality type, test anxiety, self-esteem and academic achievement, which was measured by the students GPA. The study was conducted at a university in Indiana using undergraduate

volunteers. The study used a scale from the MBTI to help determine personality types (introvert or extrovert), also Rosenberg’s 10 - item scale for self-esteem, and Spielberger’s test anxiety inventory.

The hypothesis was that extraverts who have a higher self-esteem, and low test anxiety would have better success with academic achievement than those who are introverts with low self-esteem and high test anxiety. It was found in this study that there was no significant relationship between personality type, test anxiety, self-esteem and academic achievement.

The Relationship Between Personality Types, Test Anxiety and Self-Esteem with Regards to GPA.

Cognitive styles have been used to explain individuals’ behavior most notable using Carl Jung’s psychological types, as operationalized by Myers (1965) with the Myers – Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Using personality theory, individuals’ dispositions for certain behaviors and actions can be understood. Recent research application of the MBTI include such areas as counseling, communications, learning education, empathetic response, decision making, business investments, general theory of the MBTI, construct validity of the MBTI scales, and convergent validity of the MBTI scales with other personality constructs. Despite the MBTI’s mixed validity and weak predictive value, it has been used extensively over the past 35 years in research and training efforts worldwide (Barbuto & Plummer 1998).

The MBTI is used to present four scales representing four pairs of preferences: Extraversion and Introversion; Sensing and Intuition; Thinking and Felling; and Judging and Perceiving. These preferences result in 16 learning types. A type is the combination of the four preferences. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most popular instruments for assessing these preferences. This study will only be using one of the four scales. Extraversion – Introversion preference tells us how people are energized. Extraverts prefer to focus on the outer world of people and things. Extraverts find energy in things and people. They prefer interaction with others and are action oriented (Vincent & Ross, 2001). Myers (1980) defined extraverts are the after thinkers; they cannot understand life until they have lived it. Their attitude is relaxed and confident. They expect the waters to prove shallow, and plunge readily into new and untried experiences. Minds outwardly directed, interest and attention following objective happenings, primarily those of the immediate environment. Their real world therefore is the outer world of people and things (Myers, 1980).

Introverts focus on the inner world of ideas and impressions. Introverts find energy in the inner world of ideas, concepts, and abstractions. They can be sociable but need quiet to recharge their energies (Vincent & Ross, 2001). They are the fore thinkers, and cannot live life until they understand it. Attitude reserved and questioning. They expect the waters to prove deep, and pause to take soundings in the new and untried. Minds are inwardly directed, frequently unaware of the objective environment, interest and attention being engrossed be inner events. Their real world therefore is the inner world of ideas and understanding (Myers, 1980). Extraversion and introversion have their own special dynamics and both attitudes have progressive and regressive properties (Ryckman, 1982).

Speilberger (1979) states that an anxiety state may be defined in terms of the intensity of the subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry that are experienced by an individual at a particular moment, and by heightened activity of the automatic nervous system that accompanies these feelings. Anxiety will also vary in duration and also in intensity, and fluctuate over time as a function of the amount of stress that impinges upon an individual and that individual’s interpretation of the stressful situation as personally dangerous or threatening. Many students feel anxious or nervous when taking tests in college.

Self-Esteem refers to an individual’s personal judgment of his or her own worth (Englert, Weed, & Watson 2000). Before the 1980’s, most researchers typically computed correlations between children’s self-esteem and academic success. One comprehensive review of research up to them found that most studies reported positive correlations, usually form 0.20 to 0.40 on a 1.00 scale. But since correlations between IQ and academic performance range from 0.50 to 0.70, such results show, at best, a moderate relationship between self–esteem and academic performance (Moeller 1994). Although this is important, my study will use college students and not children.

Asendorpf and Wilpers (1998) found that extraversion and socialablity predicted the overall interaction rate, the number of new peers, and various aspects of relationships with opposite – sex peers. Whether the students reported a partner or not and the number of quality of their non-peer relationships were not affected by their personality. The study that will be conducted here will focus on all aspects of extraverts and introverts, also their self-esteem.

Individuals with achieving personality priorities had higher self–esteem than individuals with pleasing personality priorities and individual with detaching personality priorities. They also had higher social interest than individuals with outgoing personality priorities and fewer dysfunctional attitudes than those with pleasing personality priorities and those with detaching personality priorities (Alderian, Kottman, and Rice 1998). Ashby (1998) also found personality types were significantly different on self–esteem, social interest, internal locus of control, and dysfunctional attitudes. In general, these differences were consistent with the theoretical descriptions of each of the personality priorities. This study will also be focusing on achievement and self–esteem, but also that personality types indicated by the MBTI.
Speilberger (1979) found that students with high-test anxiety tend to blame themselves for their poor performance, while low test-anxious students did not. He also found that high test- anxious students apparently respond to examination stress with intense emotional reactions and negative self-centered thoughts that impair the performance, while those low in test anxiety react with increased motivation and concentration. Gaudry and Speilberger (1971) found that at the college level, there is evidence that anxiety tends to be associated with lower grades and higher dropout rates.

As cited in an article written by Kwan, Bond, & Singelis (1997) there has been relative research in which links have been found between self-esteem and the five factors of personality. Concerning the effects of personality on self-esteem, previous work on American samples has found that self-esteem is positively correlated with Extraversion (strong), Openness to Experience (weak), and Conscientiousness (moderate) and is negatively correlated with Neuroticism (strong) (Costa, McCrae, & Dye, 1991; Digman 1990; McCrae & Costa, 1988). The same personality correlates with self-esteem were also found is Chinese student samples (Ho, 1994; Luk & Bond, 1992). It thus seems that the relations between self-esteem and Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness are quite robust across cultures. Therefore they expected that the effects of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness on life satisfaction be meditated through self-esteem across the two cultures. (Kwan et al, 1997)

Other relevant research has found that Individuals with achieving personality priorities had higher self-esteem that individuals with pleasing personality priorities and individuals with detaching personality priorities. Ashby et al. also had higher social interests than individuals with outgoing personality priorities and fewer dysfunctional attitudes than those with pleasing personality priorities and those with detaching personality priorities. (Ashby, Kottman, & Rice, 1998)
There has been much debate regarding whether personality variables exist as discrete classes or on a continuum. Much of the criticism surrounding the MBTI is its treatment of personality variables as discrete classes (Barbuto, 1997).

Ross and Broh (2000) found that academic achievement boosts self–esteem and the sense of personal control, but the latter influences subsequent academic achievement. Most previous research on adolescent self–concept has included self–esteem or, less commonly, the sense of personal control but not both. Ross and Broh also stated that the sense of personal control and self–esteem are highly correlated but may have different consequences for academic achievement. My study believes that self-esteem does improve academic achievement. Battle (as cited by Ross and Broh, 2000) stated that in the self–esteem model, adolescents who feel good about themselves do better in school than do those who have low self–worth. Proponents of this model contend that self-esteem leads to academic success. Of course there have been alternative views such as the one cited by Ross and Broh. In contrast to the effectiveness theory of personal control presented here others have argued that self-esteem does affect academic performance and that the consequences of self–esteem are real, not spurious, for a number of reasons. First according to self- consistency theory, self-esteem shapes our behavior because of the self–consistency motive (Rosenberg 1989), that is people act in a way that is consistent with their self-concept, so that adolescents with high self–esteem would act in ways that maintain their self-esteem (like getting good grades).

My variables that are being examined in this study are personality type, test anxiety, self-esteem and it’s relationship to GPA. This research study is designed to find a relationship, if any, between the following variables: self-esteem and test anxiety, introvert / extrovert and test anxiety, GPA and test anxiety, self-esteem and GPA, extrovert / introvert and GPA, extrovert / introvert and self-esteem. The hypothesis was that Extraverts who have a higher self-esteem and low test anxiety would have better success with academic achievement than those who are introverts with low self-esteem and high test anxiety.
Methods

Participants

There were 60 volunteers, 20 males and 40 females, who have participated in this study. The ages ranged from 18 – 44 with a mean age of 22. The participants were students who were enrolled in undergraduate courses at a university in Indiana. Participants who volunteered in this study signed an informed consent form.

Questionnaire

Rosenberg’s (1965) Self–Esteem scale is a well validated, 10-item measure of global, personal self – esteem. Its average type reliability analysis is greater than .80. Responses were made on a 4- point scale with the anchors of 1 (strongly disagree) and 4 (strongly agree). Half of the items have been formulated and scored in reverse direction to reduce the possibility of an acquiescence response set (Kwan, Bond, & Singelis, 1997). The alpha measure for this scale in this research was .856.

The Myers – Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), which is composed of sixteen four - letter combinations that represents characteristics about someone’s personality type (Myers 1965). These combinations include Extroverts and Introverts, intuition and Sensing, Thinking and Feeling, Perceiving and Judging. This research only focuses on the scales using Extroverts, Introverts. Gardner (as cited in Hill, 1999) found that test-rest reliability for continuous scores of the MBTI usually exceed .70 and often will surpass .80. Costa and McCrae (as cited in Hill, 1999) found that the MBTI is related to NEO-PI scale and found positive correlations for the E-I scale of .72.

Speilberger (1979) Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) is a self-report inventory designed to measure test anxiety (TA) as a situation-specific personality trait. The TAI consists of 20 item or statements, and the respondents indicate on a four-point scale how often they experience the feeling described in each statement. The TAI provides a measure of total TA (TAI-T) as measures of two TA components worry (W) and emotionality (E). Sapp (1993) found that unlike traditional test anxiety measures, the TAI suggests that worry is not the most important component to interfere with test performance. It is the combination of high worry and emotionality scores that affect test performance. Speilberger (1979) found a test-rest reliability of .80 to .81 for two-week to one-month periods, and .62 after six months. Alpha coefficients ranged from .92 to 96. Validity for the TAI was established with a relationship between TAI and other anxiety measures, such as Sarason’s Test Anxiety Scale and the Liebert and Morris’ Worry and Emotionality Questionnaire. There was also found to be a high correlation of .82 to .83, between the TAI score and the Test Anxiety Scale (Speilberger 1979). The alpha measure for this scale in this research was .94.

Academic achievement will be measured on a 4.0 scale. All volunteers will be asked to write their current GPA in a provided space on the survey that will be passed out during normal class hours. The university GPA scales are 0.0 – 4.0.
All participants were asked their age, gender, year in college, and department major. Participation was optional and those who wished to decline involvement in the study were given the opportunity to decline. All participants were also assured that their responses would be completely anonymous, that there are no right or wrong answers to any of the questions, and that their true responses are very important for the study. The questionnaires were passed out and respondents were given a week to fill out and turn back in.

Results
Bivariate correlations were computed for GPA, personality type, test anxiety, self-esteem, sex and age.

There were no significant correlations found among the variables being studied. The mean for GPA’s extroverts was 3.03, SD = .47 and for an introvert it was 3.03, SD = .57. The mean for self-esteem’s extrovert was 1.62, SD = .48 and for introvert it was 1.77, SD = .46. The mean for test anxiety for extroverts were 2.06, SD = .68 and for introverts it was 1.89, SD = .62.

Discussion

The purpose of this study was to determine if there were any correlations between GPA, self-esteem, test anxiety and personality types. There were no correlations found between the variables listed above. In contrast to Ashby (1998) who found that personality types were significantly different in self-esteem, I found no such correlations. In summary, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a powerful tool in examining differences in personality. If there were a higher response rate in the return of the surveys, it is possible that some significance would have been found. Some other recommendations for future research would be to replicate this study with a larger sample regarding other colleges or universities, also to conduct this study comparing universities or colleges to one another. The results may have been affected by the participant’s year in school because a higher-level student may have experienced or developed techniques regarding test anxiety that a freshman may not have yet developed. Also because this was a voluntary self-report measure, an introvert may be less willing to participate in the survey and less willing to report anxiety levels. The measure’s length may have also been a factor in the results because potential subjects may have been less willing to participate or accurately fill out the MBTI. An alternate scale of introversion / extroversion may have been more appropriate for this study and could have provided more accurate results. A future study involving the MBTI would be to measure the relationship between personality type to those students who complete college to those who withdraw from colleges or universities.

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