Press release: "The longitudinal association between self-esteem and depressive symptoms in adolescents: Separating between-person effects from within-person effects"
Recently, Mr. Masselink and colleagues published an article in the European Journal of Personality, titled, “The longitudinal association between self-esteem and depressive symptoms in adolescents: Separating between-person effects from within-person effects”. In their paper, Masselink and colleagues investigated between- and within-person associations between self-esteem and depressive symptoms in adolescents over one to one-and-a-half year intervals. Their findings indicate that while there is a strong between-person association, there is only a small within-person association from self-esteem to depressive symptoms over time. This means that although adolescents who have lower self-esteem than other adolescents also experience more depressive symptoms than other adolescents, a decrease in self-esteem within an adolescent only weakly predicts an increase in depressive symptoms within that same adolescent. The results of this study were published in the November/December issue of the European Journal of Personality.
For their study, Masselink and colleagues examined how self-esteem is related to depressive symptoms over time among adolescents in three independent datasets. They made use of random intercept cross-lagged panel modeling, a statistical technique which allowed them to separate variation between individuals from variation within individuals. Doing so, they found strong associations at the between-person level, but at the within-person level they found that changes in self-esteem only weakly predict changes in depressive symptoms. This is interesting, as past research has often suggested self-esteem might be a possible target for intervention among adolescents with depressive symptoms. The results from the present study seem to suggest that this focus may be of little use in preventing the development of depressive symptoms or improving such symptoms, because changes in self-esteem only weakly seem to affect depressive symptoms.
Correspondence about this study may be addressed to the lead author, Mr. Maurits Masselink, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. Mr. Masselink can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org. The article can be accessed here.