Angela Maiers

Leader. Visionary. Entrepreneur. Disruptor. Change Maker. Angela embodies each of these descriptors with passion, commitment and fierce determination. She has been creating and leading change in...

Research Shows The Life-Changing Power of You Matter

Mattering was first recognized as a research concept in social sciences in the 1980s. However, Dr. Andrea Dixon writes “only since 2001 has mattering to others reemerged as an important psychosocial construct.”

According to G.C. Elliot, S. Kao and A.M. Grant, authors of “Mattering: Empirical validation of a social-psychological construct” in Self and Identity, “Mattering is defined as the perception that, to some degree and in any of a variety of ways, we are a significant part of the world around us.” The authors concluded:

“Mattering is positively related to self-esteem and perceived social support; it is negatively associated with all forms of self-consciousness and alienation.”

Indeed, mattering can be a matter of life and death. As Elliott and his colleagues found in a study in 2005,

“… those who matter more are significantly less likely to consider suicide. In addition, … mattering influences levels of self-esteem, which in turn influences depression, which ultimately leads to suicide ideation.”

Dr. Andrea Dixon and her co-author Ke’Shana Griddine studied how mattering to others is “experienced by academically successful African American male high school students,” and what impact mattering has on their academic experience. Dixon and Griddine found that mattering made a difference in the lives of the students studied, and especially in their academic successes.

As Joe, a student interviewed for the study, stated,

“If I’m ever off the mark one day, even if small stuff is off, teachers here notice. They’ll ask me what’s going on, why I said what I did. That’s one of the main things here.”

Further, Dixon and Griddine found mattering gave the young men interviewed a

“strong foundation of self-efficacy and self-confidence from which they have found a sense of purpose and an enduring sense of intrinsic motivation and drive for continued school engagement and academic success.”

In an often cited study conducted over twenty years ago, Morris Rosenberg and Claire McCullough write in “Mattering: Inferred Significance and Mental Health Among Adolescents” that adolescents who felt they mattered were less likely to be juvenile delinquents.

In Family Matters: The Importance of Mattering to Family in Adolescence, Gregory C. Elliott underlines this point:

“In general,  mattering to others is an existentially reassuring awareness, and, contrariwise, failing to matter is terrifying… Mattering is a basic component of social integration. If others are aware of your presence, invest in your welfare, and rely on you in appropriate ways, you are personally integrated.”

So how does mattering in the “real world?” In 1991, the medical director of a nursing home in Upstate New York introduced plants and animals into the facility and asked residents to take care of them. The result?

“Caring for the plants and animals restored residents’ spirits and autonomy; many started dressing themselves, leaving their rooms and eating again. The number of prescriptions fell to half of that of a control nursing home, particularly for drugs that treat agitation. Medication costs plummeted, and so did the death rate.”

Similarly, University of Virginia researchers found that “Teenagers who are given responsibilities that are relevant to their world..had higher test scores and fewer behavioral problems than those who did not. Dropout and pregnancy rates among such teens also dropped by at least half.”

Conversely, a Newsweek story about gangs in Hempstead, NY discuss the appeal of gangs:

“[As gang members], young men.. find that they belong, that they’re significant, that they matter. For the first time in their lives, they are defined by their work. And they’ve found out it feels pretty good.”

Who are the people in your life who feel they don’t matter? How can you make them matter in a positive way — like the nursing home residents — rather than in the way the teens in Hempstead were made to feel they matter?

*****

Click here to access all of my resources on how to let everyone in your life know they matter and have a contribution to make. We recently published this online professional development course, with classroom ready materials, to change the way educators and students see themselves and their place in the world.

Significance or Success: What is OUR...
Posted September 22nd 2017
It has worried me for decades; all the pressure and attention we put on grades, grade point and class rank. But what does r...

Employee Worthiness in Healthcare...
Posted August 15th 2017
I'm honored to deliver the closing keynote today at#HRHealthcare2017 in La Jolla, California. When I spoke at Mayo Clin...

9 Essential Lessons for Students...
Posted August 10th 2017
For the past five years, those of us at Choose2Matter have had the pleasure and privilege of helping young change-makers re...

Research Shows The Life-Changing...
Posted May 31st 2017
Mattering was first recognized as a research concept in social sciences in the 1980s. However, Dr. Andrea Dixon writes "onl...

Timeless Leadership Lessons from The...
Posted March 25th 2017
I have happily and honestly proclaimed thateverything I have learned about social media, I learned from children. Children ...

3 Reasons Why Mattering Is the...
Posted February 20th 2017
Reason #1:CHANGE A HEART. CHANGE A MIND. CHANGE A WORLD. WHY MAKE MATTERING THE AGENDA in your workplace, school and loc...

Angela Maiers | New Learning Times
Posted October 11th 2016
A self-described social media evangelist, Angela Maiers helps schools, organizations, and individuals who want to use technolog...

Angela Maiers | Bammy Award Nominee
Posted April 21st 2015
"Angela is not your ordinary education blogger/commentator; she is more like an evangelist for all that is good in kids and e...

12 Things Kids Want from Their...
Posted February 12th 2012
Whether we are a teacher, parent, relative, boss, or community member, each of us has a chance to make a positive and impactful...