Behavioral and Brain Sciences2013-09-05 2:57 AM

The Nature and Correlates of Self-esteem Trajectories in Late Life

Abstract Is it possible to maintain a positive perspective on the self into very old age? Empirical research so far is rather inconclusive, with some studies reporting substantial declines in self-esteem late in life, whereas others report relative stability into old age. In this article, we examine long-term change trajectories in self-esteem in old age and very old age and link them to key correlates in the health, cognitive, self-regulatory, and social domains. To do so, we estimated growth curve models over chronological age and time-to-death using 18-year longitudinal data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing (N = 1,215; age 65–103 years at first occasion; M = 78.8 years, SD = 5.9; women: 45% of sample). Results revealed that self-esteem was, on average, fairly stable with minor declines only emerging in advanced ages and at the very end of life. Examination of the vast between-person differences revealed that lower cognitive abilities and lower perceived control independently related to lower self-esteem. Also, lower cognitive abilities were associated with steeper age-related and mortality-related self-esteem decrements. In our discussion, we consider a variety of challenges that potentially shape self-esteem late in life and highlight the need for more mechanism-oriented research to better understand the pathways underlying stability and change in self-esteem. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Behavioral and Brain Sciences is a peer-reviewed scientific journal of Open Peer Commentary established in 1978 by Stevan Harnad and published by Cambridge University Press. It is modeled on the journal Current Anthropology (which was established in 1959 by the University of Chicago anthropologist, Sol Tax).

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