Self-Esteem Levels Vary by Age, Race, Study
MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Although Hispanics tend to
have lower self-esteem than blacks or whites in the teen years, by
age 30 their self-esteem has increased to the point that they have
higher self-esteem than whites, a new study suggests.
And in both adolescence and young adulthood, blacks have higher
self-esteem than whites. By age 30, whites trailed both Hispanics
and blacks in terms of self-esteem, according to the report
published online July 4 in the
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland made this
finding after analyzing U.S. survey data of more than 7,000 young
adults from 1994 to 2008. The participants ranged in age from 14 to
30 years. Over the course of 14 years, the study authors examined
how five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness,
extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) affected the youth's
In addition, the researchers also looked at the participants'
sense of life mastery, risk-taking tendencies, gender, ethnicity,
health and income.
"We tested for factors that we thought would have an impact on how self-esteem develops," the study's lead author, Ruth Yasemin Erol, said in news release from the American Psychological Association. "Understanding the trajectory of self-esteem is important to pinpointing and timing interventions that could improve people's self-esteem."
The researchers found that conscientiousness, emotional
stability, a feeling of mastery and being extraverted are key to
predicting the direction a person's self-esteem will take as they
grow up, and that income did not affect this course. These
findings, they pointed out, could assist health professionals in
And, contrary to popular belief, there are no significant
differences in the way men and women feel about themselves during
those periods of development, the investigators found.
"The converging evidence on gender similarity in self-esteem is important because false beliefs in gender differences in self-esteem may carry substantial costs," said Erol. "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."
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