The Longitudinal Association Between Self-esteem and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents: Separating Between-Person Effects from Within-Person Effects

Masselink, M., Van Roekel, E., Hankin, B. L., Keijsers, L., Lodder, G. M. A., Vanhalst, J., Verhagen, M., Young, J. F. & Oldehinkel, A. J., 2018, In : European Journal of Personality. 32, 6, p. 653-671 19 p.

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Many longitudinal studies have investigated whether self-esteem predicts depressive symptoms (vulnerability model) or the other way around (scar model) in adolescents. The most common method of analysis has been the cross-lagged panel model (CLPM). The CLPM does not separate between-person effects from within-person effects, making it unclear whether the results from previous studies actually reflect the within-person effects or whether they reflect differences between people. We investigated the associations between self-esteem and depressive symptoms at the within-person level, using random intercept cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPMs). To get an impression of the magnitude of possible differences between the RI-CLPM and the CLPM, we compared the results of both models. We used data from three longitudinal adolescent samples (age range: 7-18 years; study 1: N = 1948; study 2: N = 1455; study 3: N = 316). Intervals between the measurements were 1-1.5 years. Single-paper meta-analyses showed support for small within-person associations from self-esteem to depressive symptoms, but not the other way around, thus only providing some support for the vulnerability model. The cross-lagged associations in the aggregated RI-CLPM and CLPM showed similar effect sizes. Overall, our results show that over 1- to 1.5-year time intervals, low self-esteem may negatively influence depressive symptoms over time within adolescents, but only weakly so. (c) 2018 The Authors. European Journal of Personality published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Association of Personality Psychology

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-671
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • self-esteem, depression, random intercept cross-lagged panel model, within-person effects, longitudinal data, PROSPECTIVELY PREDICTS DEPRESSION, RANDOM-EFFECTS MODELS, GOODNESS-OF-FIT, YOUNG ADULTHOOD, RISK-FACTOR, TIME, VULNERABILITY, HOPELESSNESS, COMPONENTS, EPISODE

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