Of the multitude of psychological constructs used in the study of adolescence, self-esteem is one of the most pervasive. While a wide variety of claims have been made in the literature about the importance of self-esteem in adolescence, more recent research has cast doubt on many of these claims, for both conceptual and methodological reasons. In particular, studies using prospective longitudinal data have shown that the causal effects of self-esteem in adolescence on later outcomes likely range from small to nonexistent. The current state of evidence regarding self-esteem in adolescence suggests the need for a reconceptualization of the construct and its place in the psychological landscape.
The term “self-esteem” is used almost ubiquitously in the lay literature on adolescence (Baumeister et al. 2003). For example, a Google search of the terms will turn up literally thousands of references to Web sites and other online sources providing information on this...
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