, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 371-397

Socioenvironmental experiences, self-esteem, and emotional/behavioral problems in early adolescence

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Tested the role of self-esteem as a mediator of relationships between socioenvironmental experiences and emotional/behavioral problems using a sample of 215 young adolescents (Grades 7–9). Socioenvironmental experiences were assessed using self-report questionnaire measures of social support and major and minor stressful events. Self-esteem was assessed using a self-report questionnaire, an interview, and a parent-report questionnaire. Emotional/behavioral problems were assessed using self-report, parent-report and teacherreport questionnaires. Utilizing structural equation modeling, the data were used to test a model in which self-esteem mediated the relationship between socioenvironmental experiences and emotional/behavioral problems. The hypothesized model provided a reasonably good fit to the data (normed fit index=.90). However, an alternative model which also allowed for direct effects of socioenvironmental experiences on emotional/behavioral problems produced a significant improvement in model fit. In this model, socio-environmental experiences had significant effects on emotional problems via both direct effects and indirect effects that indicated a mediating role for self-esteem. Only direct effects of socioenvironmental experiences were evident for behavioral problems.

This research was supported by a grant to the first author from the University of Missouri Research Board. Thanks are due to the students, staff, and parents of the Columbia Public Schools, Columbia, Missouri, for their participation in and support of this research project.