The Development of Global and Domain-Specific Self-Esteem From Age 13 to 31


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Journal of personality and social psychology;


American Psychological Association

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This study examines the development of global self-esteem and self-esteem in six specific domains across adolescence and young adulthood. Using a cohort-sequential design, we analyzed longitudinal data on 3,116 Norwegian men and women from 13 to 31 years of age by means of growth curve modeling. Questionnaire data provided information on global self-esteem and selfesteem in social, academic, athletic, and appearance domains. Data on important life outcomes was provided by register linkages. Results showed increasing levels of global self-esteem and self-esteem in most domains with increasing age. Being male, higher parental education, and reported higher levels of parental care were related to higher levels of global self-esteem and selfesteem in several domains. Self-esteem in the appearance domain showed high and stable correlations with global self-esteem, whereas in social domains, correlations with global selfesteem increased over age, with a particularly steep increase for romantic appeal self-esteem. As to the prospective relationship between self-esteem and important life outcomes, results showed that participants high in academic self-esteem attained higher education levels and higher income, but most of the relationship was explained by covariates such as parents’ socioeconomic status and school grades. Low global self-esteem predicted later prescription of antidepressants, even after controlling for covariates. This study is the first to provide a comprehensive picture of the development of global and domain-specific self-esteem throughout adolescence and young adulthood using long-term longitudinal data. The results underscore the importance of examining development of self-esteem in specific domains in addition to global self-esteem.


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