Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency.
The present research explored the controversial link between global self-esteem and externalizing problems such as aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. In three studies, we found a robust relation between low self-esteem and externalizing problems. This relation held for measures of self-esteem and externalizing problems based on self-report, teachers' ratings, and parents' ratings, and for participants from different nationalities (United States and New Zealand) and age groups (adolescents and college students). Moreover, this relation held both cross-sectionally and longitudinally and after controlling for potential confounding variables such as supportive parenting, parent-child and peer relationships, achievement-test scores, socioeconomic status, and IQ. In addition, the effect of self-esteem on aggression was independent of narcissism, an important finding given recent claims that individuals who are narcissistic, not low in self-esteem, are aggressive. Discussion focuses on clarifying the relations among self-esteem, narcissism, and externalizing problems.
Donnellan, MB; Trzesniewski, KH; Robins, RW; Moffitt, TE; Caspi, A
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