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Males, Females Have Similar Self-Esteem Issues in Early Adulthood

Males, Females Have Similar Self-Esteem Issues in Early AdulthoodResearchers discover men and women have comparable self-esteem during adolescence and early adulthood.

Among both genders, self-esteem increases during adolescence, then slows in young adulthood, says research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers also discovered that during adolescence, Hispanics had lower self-esteem than blacks or non-Hispanic whites, but Hispanics’ self-esteem increased more strongly so that by age 30, they had higher self-esteem than whites.

Surprisingly, at age 30, whites also trailed blacks in self-esteem.

Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland looked at data from the Young Adults section of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a U.S. national probability survey that was started in 1979 and included an oversampling of blacks and Hispanics.

The sample consisted of 7,100 individuals age 14 to 30. Forty-nine percent were female; 37 percent were white, 32 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic; and 11 percent other ethnicities. The participants were assessed every two years from 1994 to 2008.

Ruth Yasemin Erol, MSc, and colleagues tested how five personality traits — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — affect self-esteem.

They also looked at subjects’ 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,” Erol said.

“Understanding the trajectory of self-esteem is important to pinpointing and timing interventions that could improve people’s self-esteem.”

The finding that blacks have higher self-esteem than whites in both adolescence and young adulthood supports prior research.

Ethnic differences remained even when the researchers statistically controlled for a sense of mastery, or the perception of control over one’s life.

The same was true regarding mastery when they compared the self-esteem of men and women.

“The converging evidence on gender similarity in self-esteem is important because false beliefs in gender differences in self-esteem may carry substantial costs,” Erol said.

“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.”

Perceiving control or mastery over life is strongly assoicated with a subjects’ level of self-esteem, according to the study. In contrast, income did not influence the level or shape of the self-esteem trajectory in adolescence and young adulthood, the researchers found.

“The present research suggests that, in particular, emotional stability, extraversion, conscientiousnestrs and a sense of mastery are important predictors of the self-esteem trajectory in adolescence and young adulthood,” they wrote.

The study is published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Source: American Psychological Association

Males, Females Have Similar Self-Esteem Issues in Early Adulthood

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Males, Females Have Similar Self-Esteem Issues in Early Adulthood. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 15 Jul 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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