The pursuit for self-esteem has launched hundreds of books, TV shows, and blogs over the past 30 years, all trying to be the definitive source for improving self-confidence. But science has also gotten in on the action, studying behavior and media consumption as potential factors for improving our opinions of ourselves.
1) Spend a few minutes on your Facebook wall.
According to a study by social media researchers at Cornell, Facebook walls can have a positive influence on the self-esteem of college students.
63 Cornell students were left alone in the university’s Social Media Lab and seated either at computers with Facebook, or at computers that were turned off. The students with access to Facebook were allowed to peruse their wall posts and newsfeed for three minutes, and then all students were asked to fill out a questionnaire designed to measure their self-esteem.
2) Go out and get some exercise.
A Canadian study from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that overweight teens reaped psychological benefits after exercising twice a week for 10 weeks.
30 adolescents ranging in age from 12 to 17 were asked to either ride a stationary cycle or play an interactive video game of their choice for one hour.
Following the sessions, each group was asked to rate how competent they felt academically, socially, and athletically, as well as how they felt about their body image and self esteem.
3) Create your own digital avatar.
A new study from the University of Missouri found that creating an avatar alter ego can serve as a positive influence in a person’s life.
The study questioned 279 people who play the virtual reality game Second Life and found that the closer people felt to their avatars, the more likely they were to live a healthy lifestyle and have higher self-esteem in real life.
4) Don’t watch TV…unless you’re a white guy (and then watch a lot of it!).
A study published in the journal Communication Research found that television exposure predicted a decrease in self-esteem for black boys, white girls, and black girls, as well as an increase in self-esteem among white boys.
Over the course of one year, researchers surveyed 400 black and white Illinois students aged 7 to 12 years old from lower-middle to upper-middle socioeconomic communities.
5) Have elective plastic surgery.
A study by The Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation found that cosmetic surgery patients experience a decrease in negative body image for at least 12 months after surgery.
100 patients from eight geographically diverse locations were asked to fill out surveys documenting depressive symptoms and self-esteem prior to surgery. They then took the same survey three months, six months, and 12 months after their procedures.
6) Spend some time with your dad.
A study by the Social Science Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University found that kids who spent more one-on-one time with their fathers in their early adolescent years had higher self-esteem.
Researchers tracked 200 families from working- and middle-class families with at least two children over a period of seven years, and found that increased time with Dad improved feelings of self-worth in children.
7) If you’re a baby boomer, become a Republican.
Research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences from Ghent University in Belgium suggests senior citizens who vote conservatively about issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and women’s rights had higher self-esteem than their liberal counterparts.
The study followed 227 older adults ranging in age from 60 to 97. They found that those with the highest self-confidence would be classified as having “right-wing beliefs,” and that their politics buffered the negative effect of age on self-esteem.
8) Start taking piano lessons.
A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that children who took piano lessons had higher self-esteem than their peers.
117 fourth graders attending public schools in Montreal were chosen who had no formal music instruction, no piano at home, and an annual family income of below $40,000. 63 children were given an acoustic piano and received weekly piano lessons for three years, and 54 students did not participate in any formal music instruction.
9) Live in the United States.
Two psychology professors from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University found that the self-esteem of close to 65,000 U.S. college students rose dramatically between 1968 and 1994.
Using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, researchers compared results for college students tested between the years 1968 and 1994.
10) Learn a new skill in your spare time.
Learning a language or improving your math skills in your spare time boosts life satisfaction the same way a pay raise does, according to research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
They also found that those who were taking an adult learning course of any kind had better health and were less likely to be depressed.