Life-span development of self-esteem and its effects on important life outcomes

Orth, Ulrich; Robins, Richard W.; Widaman, Keith F. (2012). Life-span development of self-esteem and its effects on important life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), pp. 1271-1288. American Psychological Association 10.1037/a0025558

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We examined the life-span development of self-esteem and tested whether self-esteem influences the development of important life outcomes, including relationship satisfaction, job satisfaction, occupational status, salary, positive and negative affect, depression, and physical health. Data came from the Longitudinal Study of Generations. Analyses were based on 5 assessments across a 12-year period of a sample of 1,824 individuals ages 16 to 97 years. First, growth curve analyses indicated that self-esteem increases from adolescence to middle adulthood, reaches a peak at about age 50 years, and then decreases in old age. Second, cross-lagged regression analyses indicated that self-esteem is best modeled as a cause rather than a consequence of life outcomes. Third, growth curve analyses, with self-esteem as a time-varying covariate, suggested that self-esteem has medium-sized effects on life-span trajectories of affect and depression, small to medium-sized effects on trajectories of relationship and job satisfaction, a very small effect on the trajectory of health, and no effect on the trajectory of occupational status. These findings replicated across 4 generations of participants— children, parents, grandparents, and their great-grandparents. Together, the results suggest that self-esteem has a significant prospective impact on real-world life experiences and that high and low self-esteem are not mere epiphenomena of success and failure in important life domains.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Orth, Ulrich

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology

ISSN:

0022-3514

Publisher:

American Psychological Association

Language:

English

Submitter:

Ulrich Orth

Date Deposited:

08 Jun 2015 09:06

Last Modified:

08 Jun 2015 09:06

Publisher DOI:

10.1037/a0025558

PubMed ID:

21942279

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.69094

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/69094

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