ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (6): 684-692.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00684

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School identity promotes sense of responsibility in college students: The mediating role of self-esteem

HUANG Silin1; HAN Mingyue2; NING Caifang2; LIN Chongde1   

  1. (1 Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (2 Department of Psychology, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China)
  • Received:2015-10-27 Published:2016-06-25 Online:2016-06-25
  • Contact: LIN Chongde, E-mail:


Sense of responsibility is an effective predictor of academic achievement, perfectionism personality, way of coping with frustration, self-acceptance, and altruism of college students. The latest correlational studies show that school identity is a fundamental source where students’ sense of responsibility comes from. School identity is a socially derived psychological process reflecting awareness of one’s school membership and its associated values and emotional significances, and a sense of belonging to one’s school. However, the casual chain between school identity and sense of responsibility in college students has not been confirmed yet. Further, in the light of the social identity theory, self-esteem may be an important mediating variable between the two variables. Some researchers posit that self-esteem has two distinct aspects. One is personal self-esteem, which includes specific attributes of the individual such as capability, genius, and sociability. The other aspect is one’s collective self-esteem, defined as that individual is proud of his membership of or relationship with a social group. It remains unanswered whether personal self-esteem or collective self-esteem is the mediating variable between the two variables is clouded. The present study is designed to address the above two questions. Study 1 is aimed to confirm the c relationship between school identity and sense of responsibility. A total sample of 649 undergraduates from four universities was investigated with questionnaires. Study 2 is focused to examine the causal effect of school identity on sense of responsibility where a sample of 110 undergraduates was randomly assigned to the high identity group or the control group. They were asked to read materials related to school identity before answering the questionnaire about sense of responsibility. In Study 3, the mediating role of personal or collective self-esteem between school identity and sense of responsibility was verified by a survey of 422 undergraduates from two universities. The results suggested that: (1) School identity of college students positively correlated with their sense of responsibility after controlling for types of school, grades and gender. (2) The manipulation of school identity significantly impacted the level of sense of responsibility. That is, students primed with high level of school identity group showed significantly higher sense of responsibility than that of the control group. (3) Collective self-esteem played a role of a complete mediating variable between the school identity and responsibility, while personal self-esteem did not make any difference. In sum, the causal impact of college students’ school identity on their sense of responsibility was confirmed in the present study. Furthermore, collective self-esteem, rather than personal self-esteem, is a mediator between the two variables. The present findings were consistent with the social identity theory and also suggested that elevating students' school identity is a crucial way to promote sense of responsibility in college students. The practical implications and future direction were addressed in the discussion.