Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 473–485 | Cite as

Biological and ecological factors in the expression of adolescent self-esteem

  • Gail A. Jaquish
  • Ritch C. Savin-Williams


The relationship between self-esteem and pubertal maturation is examined based on results of the first two years of a six-year naturalistic longitudinal study of the ecology of self-esteem during adolescence. A random sample of 40 seventh-grade adolescents of both sexes from all socioeconomic classes was selected from a local junior high school. Four measures of pubertal maturation level were obtained for participants during each year of the study. Self-esteem was assessed by means of a repeated measures self-report technique. Each adolescent carried a “beeper” paging device and responded in writing to “beeps” that occurred on a random schedule eight times daily. Males were significantly higher in self-esteem than females. The developmental pattern for the relationship between self-esteem and pubertal maturation differed between boys and girls. Three ecological contextual variables were explored: setting, activity, and participants. Physical setting was significantly associated with level of self-esteem. Activities and participants present were not significantly predictive of self-esteem. Results are discussed in terms of the onset and timing of pubertal maturation and its influence on self-esteem.


High School Longitudinal Study Random Sample Repeated Measure Health Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail A. Jaquish
  • Ritch C. Savin-Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Martha Van Rensselaer HallCornell UniversityIthaca

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