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Disentangling self-concept clarity and self-esteem in young adults


Weber, Elisa; Hopwood, Christopher J; Nissen, Adam T; Bleidorn, Wiebke (2023). Disentangling self-concept clarity and self-esteem in young adults. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 125(6):1420-1441.

Abstract

Self-concept clarity and self-esteem are powerful determinants of people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Yet, even after over 30 years of research, the conceptual and empirical ties between these two self-aspects remain understudied, and little is known about the nature and function of their relationship. The present study aimed at discerning the empirical similarities and differences between self-concept clarity and self-esteem in order to examine whether they can be considered sibling constructs that are conceptually and empirically related, but not identical. Specifically, we used multivariate eight-wave longitudinal data from two cohorts of young adults (Cohort 1, N = 460; Cohort 2, N = 412) to examine the structural, cross-sectional, and longitudinal links between self-concept clarity and self-esteem, as well as their incremental validity and within-person transactions over time. We found strong evidence that self-concept clarity and self-esteem are not the same but sibling constructs. Specifically, both self-aspects were as follows: (a) structurally different and (b) cross-sectionally related, (c) shared similar but not identical developmental trajectories, (d) codeveloped over time, (e) demonstrated incremental validity in the prediction of important life outcomes, and (f) demonstrated distinctive within-person associations over time. Overall, the present study provides the most comprehensive demonstration that self-concept clarity and self-esteem are similar but different in several meaningful ways, which is of crucial importance for theory, research, and practice.

Abstract

Self-concept clarity and self-esteem are powerful determinants of people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Yet, even after over 30 years of research, the conceptual and empirical ties between these two self-aspects remain understudied, and little is known about the nature and function of their relationship. The present study aimed at discerning the empirical similarities and differences between self-concept clarity and self-esteem in order to examine whether they can be considered sibling constructs that are conceptually and empirically related, but not identical. Specifically, we used multivariate eight-wave longitudinal data from two cohorts of young adults (Cohort 1, N = 460; Cohort 2, N = 412) to examine the structural, cross-sectional, and longitudinal links between self-concept clarity and self-esteem, as well as their incremental validity and within-person transactions over time. We found strong evidence that self-concept clarity and self-esteem are not the same but sibling constructs. Specifically, both self-aspects were as follows: (a) structurally different and (b) cross-sectionally related, (c) shared similar but not identical developmental trajectories, (d) codeveloped over time, (e) demonstrated incremental validity in the prediction of important life outcomes, and (f) demonstrated distinctive within-person associations over time. Overall, the present study provides the most comprehensive demonstration that self-concept clarity and self-esteem are similar but different in several meaningful ways, which is of crucial importance for theory, research, and practice.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:self-concept clarity, self-esteem, sibling constructs, cross-sectional and longitudinal, young adulthood
Language:English
Date:1 December 2023
Deposited On:08 Jan 2024 14:05
Last Modified:31 Mar 2024 01:37
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0022-3514
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000460