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Title page for ETD etd-11052005-004546

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Flynn, Cynthia
URN etd-11052005-004546
Title Self-Esteem Level, Lability, and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Judy Garber, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Andrew J. Tomarken, Ph.D. Committee Member
Bahr Weiss, Ph.D. Committee Member
David A. Cole, Ph.D. Committee Member
Kathleen V. Hoover-Dempsey, Ph.D. Committee Member
Steven D. Hollon, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • Self-Esteem
  • Depression
  • Adolescence
  • Young adults -- Psychology
Date of Defense 2005-09-21
Availability unrestricted
Although a concurrent relation between self-esteem and depression has been well established, prospective tests of self-esteem as a risk factor for depression have yielded mixed results. Empirical investigations have focused nearly exclusively on average level of self-esteem despite theorists’ claim that self-esteem is a multi-dimensional construct. Lability, or daily fluctuations in self-cognitions, has been proposed as a particular dimension warranting further study. The current investigation was a prospective test of self-esteem level and lability in a larger model of potential risk factors for depression as prescribed by both theory and extant research. Data was collected from 160 college undergraduates at three time points and included a short-term daily survey of self-cognitions, mood, and minor positive and negative events. Lability was operationalized as the within-person covariance between daily fluctuations in self-esteem and same-day events. On average, daily self-esteem ratings were associated with both positive and negative events, and individuals significantly differed in the degree of lability, or covariance between self-esteem and daily events. Lower baseline levels of self-esteem and higher lability scores were concurrently associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. In addition, baseline self-esteem level predicted residual variance in depressive symptoms at follow-up after controlling prior depression. Negative affect, neuroticism, and borderline symptoms also were associated with self-esteem level, lability, and depressive symptoms. Major life events occurring during the follow-up interval predicted depressive symptoms but did not moderate the relation between self-esteem level and depression. Implications for future research and treatment are discussed.
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