This study used a cluster analytic approach to identify self-esteem trajectories among adolescents over a four-year period from sixth to tenth grades (N = 1,160). Four self-esteem trajectories were identified that replicated previous research: (1) consistently high, (2) moderate and rising, (3) steadily decreasing, and (4) consistently low. Female adolescents were more likely to be in the steadily decreasing self-esteem group while male adolescents were more likely to be in the moderate and rising group. African American and white youth were equally distributed across groups. Using repeated measures analysis, we found that youth with consistently high and moderate and rising self-esteem reported developmentally healthier outcomes in Grade 10 than youth in the other two clusters. Outcomes included susceptibility to peer pressure, school grades, and alcohol use. Implications of these results for studying self-esteem and developmental change more generally are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aldenderfer, M. S., and Blashfield, R. K. (1984). Cluster Analysis. Sage, Newbury Park, CA.
Alsaker, F. D., and Olweus, D. (1992). Stability and global self-evaluations in early adolescence: A cohort longitudinal study. J. Res. Adolesc. 47: 123–145.
Bachman, J. G., and O'Malley, P. M. (1984). Black-white differences in self-esteem: Are they affected by response style? Am. J. Sociol., 90: 624–639.
Barnes, G. M., and Welte, J. W. (1986). Patterns and predictors of alcohol use among 7–12th grade students in New York State. J. Studies Alcohol 47: 53–60.
Brook, J. S., Whiteman, M., Cohen, P., and Tanaka, J. S. (1992). Childhood precursors of adolescent drug use: A longitudinal analysis. Genet. Social Gen. Psychol. Monogr. 118: 195–213.
Bynner, J. M., O'Malley, P. M., and Bachman, J. C. (1981). Self-esteem and delinquency revisited. J. Youth and Adolesc. 10: 407–441.
Coopersmith, S. (1967). The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.
Covington, M. (1984). The motive for self-worth. In Ames, R., and Ames, C. (eds.), Research on Motivation in Education, Vol. 1, Student Motivation. Academic Press, New York.
Davies, J., and Stacey, B. (1972). Teenagers and Alcohol: A Developmental Study in Glasgow. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, Social Survey Division, London.
Demo, D. H., and Savin-Williams, R. C. (1983). Situational and transituational determinants of adolescent self-feelings. J. Personal. Social Psychol. 44: 824–833.
Demo, D. H., and Savin-Williams, R. C. (1992). Self-concept stability and change during adolescence. In Lipka, R. P., and Brinthaupt, T. M. (eds.), Self-Perspectives Across the Life Span. State University of New York Press, New York.
Dielman, T. E., Campanelli, P. C., Shope, J. T., and Butchart, A. T. (1987). Susceptibility to peer pressure, self-esteem, and health locus of control as correlates of adolescent substance abuse. Health Educat. Quart. 14: 207–221.
Dielman, T. E., Kloska, D. D., Leech, S. L., Schulenberg, J. E., and Shope, J. T. (1992). Susceptibility to peer pressure as an explanatory variable for the differential effectiveness of an alcohol misuse prevention program in elementary schools. J. School Health 62: 233–237.
Dielman, T. E., Leech S. L., Lorenger A. T., and Horvath W. J. (1984). Health locus of control and self-esteem as related to adolescent health behavior and intentions. Adolescence. 19: 935–950.
Dielman, T. E., Shope, J. T., Butchart, A. T., Campanelli, P. C., and Caspar, R. A. (1989a). A covariance structural model test of antecedents of adolescent alcohol misuse and a prevention effort. J. Drug Educat. 19: 337–361.
Dielman, T. E., Shope, J. T., Leech, S. L., and Butchart, A. T. (1989b). Differential effectiveness of an elementary school-based alcohol misuse prevention program by type of prior drinking experience. J. School Health 59: 255–263.
Dusek, J. B., and Flaherty, J. F. (1981). The development of self-concept during the adolescent years. Monogr. Society Res. Child Develop. 46: (Serial No. 191).
Eccles, J. (1984). Sex differences in achievement patterns. In Sonderegger, T. (ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 32). University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
Eccles, J., and Midgley, C. (1990). Changes in academic instruction and self-perception during early adolescence. In Montemayer, R., Adams, G. R., and Gullotta, R. P. (eds.), From Childhood to Adolescence: A Transitional Period? Sage, Newbury Park, CA.
Everitt, B. (1980). Cluster Analysis. Halsted, New York.
Faunce, W. A. (1984). School achievement, social status, and self-esteem. Social Psychol. Quart. 47: 3–14.
Greenwald, M. A. (1982). Minimizing Alcohol Problems and Smoking: Final Report Year II. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
Harter, S. (1986). Cognitive-developmental processes in the integration of concepts about emotions and the self. Social Cogn. 4: 119–151.
Harter, S. (1990). Self and identity development. In Feldman, S. S., and Elliott, G. R. (eds.), At the Threshold: The Developing Adolescent. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., and Miller, J. Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychol. Bull. 112: 64–105.
Hirsch, B. J., and DuBois, D. L. (1991). Self-esteem in early adolescence: The identification and prediction of contrasting longitudinal trajectories. J. Youth Adolesc. 20: 53–72.
Hirsch, B. J., DuBois, D. L., and Brownell, A. B. (1993). Trajectory analysis of the transition to junior high school: Implications for prevention and policy. Prevent. Human Serv. 10: 83–101.
Jessor, R., and Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem Behavior and Psychosocial Development: A Longitudinal Study of Youth. Academic Press, New York.
Johnston, L. D., and O'Malley, P. M. (1986). Why do the nation's students use drugs and alcohol: Self-reported reasons from nine national surveys. J. Drug Issues 16: 29–66.
Kandel, D. B. (1980). Drug and drinking behavior among youth. Ann. Rev. Sociol. 6: 235–285.
Kazdin, A. E., French, N. H., Unis, A. S., and Esveldt-Dawson, K. (1983). Helplessness, depression, and suicide intent among psychiatrically disturbed inpatient children. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 51: 504–510.
Kokenes, B. (1978). A factor analytic study of the Coopersmith self-esteem inventory. Adolescence 49: 149–155.
Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and Personality (rev. ed.). Harper, New York.
McCarthy, J., and Hoge, D. (1982). Analysis of age effects in longitudinal studies of adolescent self-esteem. Develop. Psychol. 18: 372–379.
Nottelmann, E. D. (1987). Competence and self-esteem during transition from childhood to adolescence. Develop. Psychol. 23: 441–450.
Offer, D., and Offer, J. (1977). From Teenage to Young Manhood. New York, Basic Books.
O'Malley, P. M., and Bachman, J. G. (1983). Self-esteem: Change and stability in adolescent self-concept between the ages 13 and 23. Develop. Psychol. 19: 257–268.
Rachal, J. V., Williams, J. R., Brehm, M. L., Cavanaugh, E., Moore, R. P., and Eckerman, W. C. (1975). A National Study of Adolescent Drinking Behavior, Attitudes, and Correlates: Final Report. NIAAA, Rockville, MD.
Reinherz, H. Z., Stewart-Berghauer, G., Pakiz, B., Frost, A. K., Moeykens, B. A., and Holmes, W. M. (1989). The relationship of early risk and current mediators to depressive symptomatology in adolescence. J. Am. Acad. Child Adoles. Psychiat. 28: 942–947.
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Rosenberg, M. (1986). Self-concept from middle childhood through adolescence. In Suls, J., and Greenwald, A. G. (eds.), Psychological Perspectives on the Self. Earlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.
Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C., and Schoenbach, C. (1989). Self-esteem and adolescent problems: Modeling reciprocal effects. Am. Sociol. Rev. 54: 1004–1018.
Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. Am. J. Orthopsychiat. 57: 316–331.
Savin-Williams, R. C., and Berdt, T. J. (1990). Friendships and peer relations during adolescence. In Feldman, S. S., and Elliott, G. R. (eds.), At the Threshold: The Developing Adolescent. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Savin-Williams, R. C., and Demo, D. H. (1984). Developmental change and stability in adolescent self-concept. Develop. Psychol, 20: 1100–1110.
Selnow, G. W. (1985). Using a stratified approach in substance intervention and prevention programs among adolescents: An empirical analysis. J. Drug Educat. 15: 327–341.
Shope, J. T., Dielman, T. E., Butchart, A. T., Campanelli, P. C., and Kloska, D. D. (1992). An elementary school-based alcohol misuse prevention program. A follow-up evaluation. J. Studies Alcohol. 53: 106–121.
Simmons, R. G., and Blyth, D. A. (1987). Moving Into Adolescence: The Impact of Pubertal Change and School Context. Aldine de Gruyter, New York.
Simmons, R. G., Blyth, D. A., Van Cleave, E. F., and Bush, D. M. (1979). Entry into early adolescence. Am. Sociol. Rev. 44: 948–967.
Simmons, R. G, Rosenberg, F., and Rosenberg, M. (1973). Disturbance in the self-image at adolescence. Am. Sociol. Rev. 38: 553–568.
Stacy, A. U., Newcomb, M. D., and Bentler, P. M. (1992). Interactive and higher-order effects of social influences on drug use. J. Health Social Behav. 33: 226–241.
Suls, J. (1989). Self-awareness and self-identity in adolescence. In Worell, J., and Danner, F. (eds.), The Adolescent Decision-Maker. Academic Press, New York.
Wells, E. L., and Rankin, J. H. (1983). Self-concept as a mediating factor in delinquency. Social Psychol. Quart. 46: 11–22.
Wylie, R. C. (1979). The Self Concept: Theory and Research on Selected Topics, Volume 2. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
Zimmerman, M. A., and Arunkumar, R. (1994). Risiliency research: Models, issues, and policy implications. Social Policy Rep. 8: 1–18.
About this article
Cite this article
Zimmerman, M.A., Copeland, L.A., Shope, J.T. et al. A Longitudinal Study of Self-Esteem: Implications for Adolescent Development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 26, 117–141 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024596313925
- Longitudinal Study
- Repeated Measure
- Analytic Approach
- Measure Analysis