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Stability and change in low self-esteem: the role of psychosocial factors

  • Bernice Andrews (a1) and George W. Brown (a1)


Low self-esteem, defined as negative evaluation of self (NES), has been shown to play a significant role in the development of depression at a case level (Brown et al. 1986). This study investigated the stability of this risk factor in 102 women over a 7-year period and examined psychosocial factors that might influence change. At the end of the 7 years about half of those originally identified as having NES no longer had it, but very few moved in the reverse direction to NES. Level of depressive symptomatology also decreased but this was not a sufficient explanation for the substantial improvement in self-esteem. Life changes that involved an improvement in the quality of close relationships or an increase in work status appeared to be the most important factors in positive NES change. Ratings made at the time of first contact of environmental difficulties and positive evaluation of self (measured independently of NES) were related to positive NES change, but only via their link with positive life changes occurring in the 7-year follow-up period.


Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Dr Bernice Andrews, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX.


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