Angel Joshua Pagan



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The proposed research seeks to examine the association self-esteem, how one perceives their abilities and worthiness in society, on the human stress hormone, cortisol. According to Lazarus & Folkman (1984), stress occurs when perceived environmental demands exceed one’s ability to cope with them. The majority of research available pertains to elevated levels of the hormone due to physical, external and internal stressors, but lack in the dimension of investigating self-esteem. The proposed research seeks to expand the body of work regarding the causes of stress and self-esteem on academic performance. Current research states if an individual does not believe he or she is competent, significant or worthy, heightened appraised stress can be expected to occur (Eisenbarth, 2012); therefore, it is hypothesized that an individual who has a perceived low self worth (low self-esteem) will have increased levels of cortisol, leading to lower academic performance. In contrast, individuals with high-perceived self worth (high self-esteem) will have lower levels of cortisol, which will contribute to higher academic performance. The proposed two-part study will use the data collected to find the association between self-esteem and stress, via the steroid hormone cortisol, on the participant's actual academic performance. These findings will be compared to illustrate the correlation between the variables to add to the body of work pertaining to factors that influence academic performance.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Erin Marie O'Mara

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

The Influence of Self-Esteem and Stress on Academic Performance in College Students