Using a psychosocial model of youth self-esteem, this application proposes (a) a 2-year, four-wave prospective study of self-esteem and its psychological, ecological, and adaptive correlates during the transition from childhood to adolescence and (b) the design of a prevention program to enhance self-esteem and reduce rates of disorder among young adolescents. The sample (n = 400) for the prospective study will consist of equal sized cohorts of preadolescents (5th/6th grade) and early adolescents (7th/8th grade), with stratified sampling for gender, race/ethnicity, and family low-income status. Youths will be assessed during the fall and spring semesters of two consecutive school years using measures of self-esteem, ecological experiences (social support, positive/negative events, extracurricular involvements), self-system processes (self-concept, self-standards, self-values), and adaptation (emotional, behavioral, academic). Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with a subsample of youths (n = 32) selected for low and high self-esteem.
Specific aims are to: (1) investigate change and stability in self-esteem during pre-adolescence and early adolescence, including both longitudinal trajectories and short-term (day-to-day) lability in feelings of self-worth; (2) further validate and refine the PI's psychosocial model, including the relationship of self-esteem to (a) experiences in primary domains of development (i.e., school, peers, and family), (b) conceptually-related aspects of the self-system (i.e., content-specific evaluations of the self, descriptive views of the self, standards for the self, self-values, and racial/ethnic identity), and (c) socioemotional and academic adjustment, including transactional (bi-directional) patterns of linkage and both depression and specific health-risk and problem behaviors; and (3) address methodological limitations of prior research through the use of a multiple wave prospective design, a demographically diverse sample of youth, multidimensional measures of trait and state aspects of self-esteem, multi-source assessments of self-esteem and adaptive outcomes, structural modeling with latent variables, and qualitative interview data to augment quantitative measurements.
Specific aims of the second component of the research are to: (1) design an esteem-enhancement program for older children and young adolescents that is grounded solidly in relevant theory and empirical knowledge, including the findings of the proposed prospective study; (2) enhance and refine the design of the program through consultation with leading scientists in the prevention area, feedback from administrators with expertise in youth program development, and focus groups/informal piloting with youth, parents, and teachers; and (3) plan a grant-funded (competing continuation) experimental study of the program's effectiveness.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
First Independent Research Support & Transition (FIRST) Awards (R29)
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Child/Adolescent Risk and Prevention Review Committee (CAPR)
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Morf, Carolyn
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University of Missouri-Columbia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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DuBois, David L; Silverthorn, Naida (2004) Do deviant peer associations mediate the contributions of self-esteem to problem behavior during early adolescence? A 2-year longitudinal study. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 33:382-8
DuBois, David L; Silverthorn, Naida (2004) Bias in self-perceptions and internalizing and externalizing problems in adjustment during early adolescence: a prospective investigation. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 33:373-81
DuBois, David L; Burk-Braxton, Carol; Swenson, Lance R et al. (2002) Race and gender influences on adjustment in early adolescence: investigation of an integrative model. Child Dev 73:1573-92
DuBois, David L; Burk-Braxton, Carol; Swenson, Lance P et al. (2002) Getting by with a little help from self and others: self-esteem and social support as resources during early adolescence. Dev Psychol 38:822-39