Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 367–385 | Cite as

Self-criticism at age 12: A longitudinal study of adjustment

  • David C. Zuroff
  • Richard Koestner
  • Theodore A. Powers


This study employed a prospective longitudinal design to investigate the relation between self-criticism at age 12 and later adjustment. Archival data were available for subjects in the Sears, Maccoby, and Levin (1957) study. Self-criticism at age 12 predicted involvement in fewer high school activities and, at age 31, fewer years of education completed, lower occupational status in men, dissatisfaction with primary relationship (p=.10), dissatisfaction with being a parent, and personal/social maladjustment. However, self-critics were not less likely to marry nor did they marry later or have fewer children. The results were largely consistent with Blatt's lifespan development perspective on self-criticism. Possible processes linking self-criticism in early adolescence to later life outcomes are discussed.

Key Words

Self-criticism achievement adjustment lifespan development 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbott, H. C. (1960).A study of the relationship between child-rearing practices and school achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1987).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed., revised). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  3. Aubé, J., Koestner, R. (1992). Gender characteristics and adjustment: A longitudinal study.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 485–493.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barthell, C. N., & Holmes, D. S. (1968). High school yearbooks: A non-reactive measure of social isolation in graduates who later became schizophrenic.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 73, 313–316.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226–244.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T. (1983). Cognitive therapy of depression: New perspectives. In P. J. Clayton & J. E. Barrett (Eds.),Treatment of Depression: Old controversies and new approaches. New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  7. Blatt, S. J. (1974). Levels of object representation in anaclitic and introjective depression.Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 29, 107–157.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Blatt, S. J. (1990). Interpersonal relatedness and self-definition: Two personality configurations and their implications for psychopathology and psychotherapy. In J. L. Singer (Ed.),Repression and dissociation: Implications for personality theory, psychopathology, and health (pp. 299–336). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Blatt, S. J., D'Afflitti, J. P., & Quinlan, D. M. (1976). Experiences of depression in normal young adults.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 383–389.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Blatt, S. J., & Homann, E. (1992). Parent-child interaction in the etiology of dependent and self-critical depression.Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 47–91.Google Scholar
  11. Blatt, S. J., & Maroudas, C. (1992). Convergences among psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral theories of depression.Psychoanalytic Psychology, 9, 157–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blatt, S. J., & Shichman, S. (1983). Two primary configurations of psychopathology.Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 6, 187–254.Google Scholar
  13. Blatt, S. J., Wein, S. J., Chevron, E., & Quinlan, D. M. (1979). Parental representations and depression in normal young adults.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 388–397.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Blatt, S. J., & Zuroff, D. C. (1992). Interpersonal relatedness and self-definition: Two prototypes for depression.Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 527–562.Google Scholar
  15. Bowlby, J. (1973).Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation, anxiety, and anger. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Brewin, C. R., Firth-Cozens, J., Furnham, A., & McManus, C. (1992). Self-criticism in adulthood and recalled childhood experience.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 561–566.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Buros, O. K. (Ed.), (1965).The sixth mental measurements yearbook. Highland Park, NJ: Gryphon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cannon-Spoor, H. E., Potkin, S. G., & Wyatt, R. J. (1982). Measurement of premorbid adjustment in chronic schizophrenia.Schizophrenia Bulletin, 8, 470–484.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983).Applied multiple regression: Correlational analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Fichman, L., Koestner, R., & Zuroff, D. C. (in press). Depressive styles in adolescence: Assessment, relation to social functioning, and developmental trends.Journal of Youth and Adolescence.Google Scholar
  21. Harter, S. (1986). Processes underlying the construction, maintenance, and enhancement of the self-concept in children. In J. Suls and A. Greenwald (Eds.),Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. 3, pp. 136–182). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Harter, S. (1990). Developmental differences in the nature of self-representations: Implications for the understanding, assessment, and treatment of maladaptive behavior.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 113–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Conceptualizing romantic love as an attachment process.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511–524.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1990). Love and work: An attachment-theoretical perspective.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 270–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Koestner, R., Zuroff, D. C., & Powers, T. A. (1991). The family origins of adolescent self criticism and its continuity into adulthood.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 191–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Maccoby, E. E. (1961). The taking of adult roles in middle childhood.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 493–503.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Main, M., Kaplan, N., & Cassidy, J. (1985). In I. Bretherton and E. Waters (Eds.), Growing points of attachment theory and research.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50, 66–104.Google Scholar
  28. McClelland, D. C., Constantian, C. A., Regalado, D., and Stone, C. (1982). Effects of child-rearing practices on adult maturity. In D. C. McClelland (Ed.),Development of social maturity (pp. 209–249). New York: Irvington.Google Scholar
  29. McClelland, D. C., & Pilon, D. A. (1983). Sources of adult motives in parent behavior in early childhood.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 564–574.Google Scholar
  30. McCranie, E. W., & Bass, J. D. (1984). Childhood family antecedents of dependency and self criticism: Implications for depression.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 3–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Monroe, S. M., & Simons, A. D. (1991). Diathesis-stress theories in the context of life stress research: Implications for the depressive disorders.Psychological Bulletin, 110, 406–425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Nietzel, M. T., & Harris, M. J. (1990). Relationship of dependency and achievement/autonomy to depression.Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 279–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Powers, T. A., & Zuroff, D. C. (1988). Interpersonal consequences of overt self-criticism: A comparison with neutral and self-enhancing presentations of self.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1054–1062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. SAS Institute Inc. (1989).SAS/STAT user's guide, Version 6, 4th edition, vol. 2, Cary, NC: Author.Google Scholar
  35. Sears, P. S. (1963).The effect of classroom conditions on the strength of achievement motive and work output of elementary school children (Cooperative Research Project No. 873). Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.Google Scholar
  36. Sears, R. R. (1937). Experimental studies of projection, II: Ideas of reference.Journal of Social Psychology, 8, 389–400.Google Scholar
  37. Sears, R. R. (1961). Relation of early socialization experiences to aggression in middle childhood.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 466–492.Google Scholar
  38. Sears, R. R. (1970). Relation of early socialization experiences to self-concepts and gender role in middle childhood.Child Development, 41, 267–289.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Sears, R. R., Maccoby, E. E., & Levin, H. (1957).Patterns of childrearing. Evanston, II: Row Peterson.Google Scholar
  40. Sroufe, L. A., Fox, N. E., & Pancake, V. R. (1983). Attachment and dependency in developmental perspective.Child Development, 54, 1615–1627.Google Scholar
  41. Zuroff, D. C. (1993).Adult attachment styles of individuals vulnerable to depression, Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  42. Zuroff, D. C., & de Lorimier, S. (1989). Ideal and actual romantic partners of women varying in dependency and self-criticism.Journal of Personality, 57, 826–846.Google Scholar
  43. Zuroff, D. C., & Franko, D. L. (1986).Depressed and test anxious students' interactions with friends: Effects of dependency and self-criticism. Paper presented at the Eastern Psychological Association Convention, New York.Google Scholar
  44. Zuroff, D. C., Moskowitz, D. S., Wielgus, M. S., Powers, T. A., & Franko, D. L. (1983). Construct validation of the dependency and self-criticism scales of the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire.Journal of Research in Personality, 17, 226–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Zuroff
    • 2
  • Richard Koestner
    • 2
  • Theodore A. Powers
    • 1
  1. 1.Havard University Medical SchoolUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations