Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 571–601 | Cite as

A 10-day developmental voyage: converging evidence from three studies showing that self-esteem may be elevated and maintained without negative outcomes

  • S. Kafka
  • J. A. HunterEmail author
  • J. Hayhurst
  • M. Boyes
  • R. L. Thomson
  • H. Clarke
  • A. M. Grocott
  • M. Stringer
  • K. S. O’Brien


Empirical evidence shows that educational experiences in the context of the outdoors lead to elevated self-esteem. Although elevated self-esteem is widely assumed to promote beneficial outcomes, recent evidence suggests that elevated self-esteem may also facilitate a variety of negative outcomes (i.e., increased prejudice, aggression, drug and alcohol abuse). The current research was conducted in order to examine whether one type of outdoor educational experience—a 10-day developmental voyage—could elevate adolescents’ self-esteem without also elevating negative outcomes. The data from three separate studies are reported. Study one revealed that adolescents who undertook the voyage manifested elevated self-esteem and decreased gender prejudice (i.e., less negative ratings of opposite sex outgroup members). Study two replicated these findings and further demonstrated that these effects were maintained 4–5 months following the voyage. In study three, in addition to self-esteem, risky attitudes (i.e., towards drug and alcohol use), physical aggression, verbal aggression, racial and gender bias were also examined. Adolescents again showed elevated self-esteem that was maintained 4–5 months following the voyage. There were no changes in risky attitudes, aggression, or racial and gender bias. Taken together these results indicate that taking part in a 10-day developmental voyage—can lead to an elevation in self-esteem, that is maintained over time and which does not facilitate a variety of negative outcomes.


Self-esteem Developmental voyage Intervention Negative outcomes Gender prejudice Outdoor education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Kafka
    • 1
  • J. A. Hunter
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Hayhurst
    • 1
  • M. Boyes
    • 1
  • R. L. Thomson
    • 1
  • H. Clarke
    • 1
  • A. M. Grocott
    • 1
  • M. Stringer
    • 2
  • K. S. O’Brien
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OtgaoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of UlsterColeraineNorthern Ireland
  3. 3.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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