According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland, self-esteem levels for adolescent girls and boys increase equally, leveling off in adulthood. The study also revealed that Hispanics had a decreased level of self-esteem during adolescence, but showed the highest increase in self-esteem into adulthood. By age 30, Hispanics had a much higher level of self-esteem than whites, even higher than the white participants, whose self-esteem was found to be lower than not only the Hispanic’s, but also lower than the self-esteem of the black participants.
The researchers used information gathered from the Young Adults section of the national Longitudinal Survey of Youth, to evaluate self-esteem of blacks, whites and Hispanics. Those surveyed included over 7,000 people from age 14 to age 30. Nearly half of those in the study were female, 32 percent black, 37 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic and 11 percent were of other ethnicities. The survey contained data that was gathered for fourteen years. The researchers looked at how specific personality traits, including agreeableness, openness, extraversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness, influenced the self-esteem of the subjects. Ruth Yasemin Erol, MSc, one of the researchers, said, “We tested for factors that we thought would have an impact on how self-esteem develops. Understanding the trajectory of self-esteem is important to pinpointing and timing interventions that could improve people’s self-esteem.” The researchers also put controls in place to allow for sense of mastery.
Erol said, “The converging evidence on gender similarity in self-esteem is important because false beliefs in gender differences in self-esteem may carry substantial costs.” She added, “For example, parents, teachers and counselors may overlook self-esteem problems in male adolescents and young men because of the widespread belief that men have higher self-esteem than women have.” The researchers also noted that income had no bearing on the self-esteem of the adolescents or young adults.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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