ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (6): 787-796.

### Development of Young Adolescents' Self-esteem and Influencing Factors: A Longitudinal Analysis

PAN Yingqiu

1. (Institute of Psychology, School of Public Policy, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China)
• Received:2014-02-12 Published:2015-06-25 Online:2015-06-25
• Contact: PAN Yingqiu, E-mail: ypan001@xmu.edu.cn

Abstract:

The concept of “contingent self-esteem” emphasizes that self-esteem derives from living up to external standards, such as interpersonal expectations and achievement in a perceived important field. The concept of “true self-esteem” argues that self-esteem derives from the satisfaction of fundamental human needs, such as autonomy and relatedness. To understand how external factors and internal needs work together and shape the development of self-esteem among Chinese young adolescents, a three-year longitudinal study was conducted to investigate the role of external factors, including adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship, teacher- student relationship, and academic pressure, and the internal need of cognitive autonomy in the development of adolescents’ self-esteem. A total of 321 seventh-grade adolescents were recruited from three public middle schools and participated in the study. 258 adolescents (128 females and 130 males) participated in three consecutive years..The average age for the adolescents was 13.26 years (SD = 0.55). Sample attrition was primarily because students were not available at the time when the questionnaires were administered. To check whether the attrition was selective and affected the results, mean differences in adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship, teacher-student relationship, academic pressure, cognitive autonomy, and self-esteem were examined between the attrition sample and the longitudinal sample. No significant differences were found. Participants who attended all the three waves of data collection were included in the further data analysis. Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance was used to examine the developmental patterns of independent variables of adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship, teacher-student relationship, academic pressure, cognitive autonomy, and the dependent variable of self-esteem. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to analyze the prediction of independent variables (e.g., perceived parent-child relationship) to the dependent variable of self-esteem. Results showed that adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship and academic pressure were overall stable across the three years of middle school and showed a positive and negative prediction to the development of self-esteem, respectively. Adolescents’ perceived teacher-student relationship declined with grade and had no impact on the development of self-esteem. Adolescents’ self-esteem and cognitive autonomy significantly increased with grade and cognitive autonomy had a significant and positive prediction to the development of self-esteem. No gender difference was found in the development of self-esteem. The findings of the present study provided empirical support for both the concept of “contingent self-esteem” and “true self-esteem”. Self-esteem is not only contingent on the external factors of adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship and academic pressure but also dependent on satisfactions of internal psychological needs, such as cognitive autonomy. Specifically, the internal need of cognitive autonomy stabilizes and promotes the development of young adolescents’ self-esteem while the external factors of adolescents’ perceived parent-child relationship and academic pressure play a role of facilitator and inhibitor in the process, respectively.