How Levels Of Self-Esteem Fluctuate Based On Race, Age, And Gender


USA Today reports, “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.”

The report also states that there are “no significant differences in the way men and women feel about themselves during those periods of development,” and that “blacks have higher self-esteem than whites” during both time periods.

And by age 30, “whites trailed both Hispanics and blacks in terms of self-esteem.”

As with all studies, it’s usually a good idea to take a look at how they came to these conclusions:

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 self-esteem.
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 targeting treatments.

So it seems this study has landed on what plenty of teen movies have tried to tell us all along: everyone has the capacity to feel shitty about themselves. And race, age, gender, and social status often have very little to do with what ultimately tips the scale.

Especially when it comes to young men, who are often thought of as having higher self-esteem than young women and are therefore assumed to be fine and dandy, when that may not always be so:

“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.”

Study finds self-esteem levels vary by age, race [USA Today]

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