Levels Of Self Esteem Change With Age

During our life's journey, we experience different levels of self-esteem at various stages of growth. While the topic of healthy self-esteem for children is often addressed, adults can greatly benefit by taking a look at their self-esteem. In fact, attention should be placed on the importance of healthy self-esteem at every life-stage.

The April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology includes a recent long-term study, in which researchers surveyed over 3,600 Americans aged 25 to 104, and attempted further contact with all of them four times between 1986 and 2002. Ulrich Orth, lead author of the study, says that "self-esteem is related to better health, less criminal behavior, lower levels of depression and, overall, greater success in life, Therefore, it's important to learn more about how the average person's self-esteem changes over time."

The study discovered that the lowest self-esteem manifests at the youngest ages, steadily increasing as people age. Self-esteem levels plateau in people's 60s. In general, women displayed lower self-esteem than men, up until their 80s.

One theory from the researchers as to why self-esteem would peak at middle-age, suggested by study co-author Richard Robins, is that "midlife is a time of highly stable work, family and romantic relationships. People increasingly occupy positions of power and status, which might promote feelings of self-esteem. In contrast, older adults may be experiencing a change in roles such as an empty nest, retirement and obsolete work skills in addition to declining health."

For mature adults, health and wealth were key factors for raising self-esteem. Those having higher incomes, and who were in good physical condition, were better able to maintain high self-esteem as they aged. Research is not conclusive as to a direct link for health and wealth and higher self-opinion, but perhaps the confidence of feeling well and financially secure provides a sense of independence and significance, leading to high self-esteem.

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