An investigation of the relationship between self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour among adolescent students studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.
This study sought to investigate the relationship between self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour among adolescent students studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus. A total of 188 adolescent students within the age range of 18 and 22 from different race, academic level and genders were sampled from the student population. The study was conducted using a quantitative method, using correlational statistics. Self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour were the main variables studied. Research shows that adolescents’ engagement in risk-taking behaviour is prevalent and on the rise both locally and internationally. Negotiating adolescence involves many challenges and adjustment problems. Those who experience difficulties may resort to risktaking behaviour. Only a few studies have linked low self-esteem to risk-taking behaviour. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data and it comprised of items from two separate questionnaires: (1) the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSS); and (2) a Risk-Taking Behaviour Assessment Scale. Data were computed and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). This study found that self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour did not correlate significantly. Thus the null-hypothesis was proved to be true, indicating that self-esteem did not correlate with risk-taking behaviour, possibly because adolescent risk-taking behaviour is a complex phenomenon with multiple determinants or etiological factors. Detailed findings also revealed different patterns and levels of risk-engagement, and how they related to demographics. For example, alcohol use was found to be the most common form of risk behaviour amongst the participants. Risk-taking behaviour was higher amongst males than females. The findings of the present study provide information and possible understanding of the nature of the relationship between self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour among adolescent students. This has possible implications for further research, prevention and treatment strategies for counselling centre staff at local universities.