Refining the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression: Disentangling the effects of genuine self-esteem and narcissism

Orth, Ulrich; Robins, Richard W.; Meier, Laurenz L.; Conger, Rand D. (2016). Refining the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression: Disentangling the effects of genuine self-esteem and narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(1), pp. 133-149. American Psychological Association 10.1037/pspp0000038

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A growing body of research supports the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression, which states that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression. The goal of the present research was to refine the vulnerability model, by testing whether the self-esteem effect is truly due to a lack of genuine self-esteem or due to a lack of narcissistic self-enhancement. For the analyses, we used data from 6 longitudinal studies consisting of 2,717 individuals. In each study, we tested the prospective effects of self-esteem and narcissism on depression both separately for each construct and mutually controlling the constructs for each other (i.e., a strategy that informs about effects of genuine self-esteem and pure narcissism), and then meta-analytically aggregated the findings. The results indicated that the effect of low self-esteem holds when narcissism is controlled for (uncontrolled effect = -.26, controlled effect = -.27). In contrast, the effect of narcissism was close to zero when self-esteem was controlled for (uncontrolled effect = -.06, controlled effect = .01). Moreover, the analyses suggested that the self-esteem effect is linear across the continuum from low to high self-esteem (i.e., the effect was not weaker at very high levels of self-esteem). Finally, self-esteem and narcissism did not interact in their effect on depression; that is, individuals with high self-esteem have a lower risk for developing depression, regardless of whether or not they are narcissistic. The findings have significant theoretical implications because they strengthen the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression.

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:

22 Jan 2016 09:52

Last Modified:

22 Jan 2016 09:52

Publisher DOI:

10.1037/pspp0000038

PubMed ID:

25915133

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.74621

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/74621

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