Skip to main content

A Longitudinal Study of Self-Esteem: Implications for Adolescent Development

Abstract

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.

REFERENCES

  1. Aldenderfer, M. S., and Blashfield, R. K. (1984). Cluster Analysis. Sage, Newbury Park, CA.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bynner, J. M., O'Malley, P. M., and Bachman, J. C. (1981). Self-esteem and delinquency revisited. J. Youth and Adolesc. 10: 407–441.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Coopersmith, S. (1967). The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Davies, J., and Stacey, B. (1972). Teenagers and Alcohol: A Developmental Study in Glasgow. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, Social Survey Division, London.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Demo, D. H., and Savin-Williams, R. C. (1983). Situational and transituational determinants of adolescent self-feelings. J. Personal. Social Psychol. 44: 824–833.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 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).

  18. Eccles, J. (1984). Sex differences in achievement patterns. In Sonderegger, T. (ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 32). University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Everitt, B. (1980). Cluster Analysis. Halsted, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Faunce, W. A. (1984). School achievement, social status, and self-esteem. Social Psychol. Quart. 47: 3–14.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Greenwald, M. A. (1982). Minimizing Alcohol Problems and Smoking: Final Report Year II. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Harter, S. (1986). Cognitive-developmental processes in the integration of concepts about emotions and the self. Social Cogn. 4: 119–151.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  25. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Jessor, R., and Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem Behavior and Psychosocial Development: A Longitudinal Study of Youth. Academic Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  29. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Kandel, D. B. (1980). Drug and drinking behavior among youth. Ann. Rev. Sociol. 6: 235–285.

    Google Scholar 

  31. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Kokenes, B. (1978). A factor analytic study of the Coopersmith self-esteem inventory. Adolescence 49: 149–155.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and Personality (rev. ed.). Harper, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  34. McCarthy, J., and Hoge, D. (1982). Analysis of age effects in longitudinal studies of adolescent self-esteem. Develop. Psychol. 18: 372–379.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Nottelmann, E. D. (1987). Competence and self-esteem during transition from childhood to adolescence. Develop. Psychol. 23: 441–450.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Offer, D., and Offer, J. (1977). From Teenage to Young Manhood. New York, Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  37. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  38. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  39. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

    Google Scholar 

  41. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C., and Schoenbach, C. (1989). Self-esteem and adolescent problems: Modeling reciprocal effects. Am. Sociol. Rev. 54: 1004–1018.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. Am. J. Orthopsychiat. 57: 316–331.

    Google Scholar 

  44. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Savin-Williams, R. C., and Demo, D. H. (1984). Developmental change and stability in adolescent self-concept. Develop. Psychol, 20: 1100–1110.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  47. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Simmons, R. G., and Blyth, D. A. (1987). Moving Into Adolescence: The Impact of Pubertal Change and School Context. Aldine de Gruyter, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  49. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Simmons, R. G, Rosenberg, F., and Rosenberg, M. (1973). Disturbance in the self-image at adolescence. Am. Sociol. Rev. 38: 553–568.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  52. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Wells, E. L., and Rankin, J. H. (1983). Self-concept as a mediating factor in delinquency. Social Psychol. Quart. 46: 11–22.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Wylie, R. C. (1979). The Self Concept: Theory and Research on Selected Topics, Volume 2. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Zimmerman, M. A., and Arunkumar, R. (1994). Risiliency research: Models, issues, and policy implications. Social Policy Rep. 8: 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

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

Download citation

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Longitudinal Study
  • Repeated Measure
  • Analytic Approach
  • Measure Analysis