Has your self esteem taken a hit? If you’re young, the value you see in yourself, or self esteem, will probably rise steadily through middle age. But as soon as you hit the big six-zero in your near future, the value you place upon yourself will likely decline in the years ahead, perhaps dramatically.
That’s the broad conclusion of a new study showing how self esteem changes over the human lifespan. The study, based on interviews with a total of 3,617 Americans over a 16-year period from 1986 to 2002, concludes that of all the factors that affect how we view ourselves, our health and our financial prosperity have the most lasting impact.
“We tested the effects of gender, ethnicity, education, income, employment status, relationship satisfaction, marital status, social support, health experiences and stressful life events,” said psychologist Richard W. Robins of the University of California, Davis, co-author of the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Many of these variables were related to self esteem, but in our study, only health and income helped to explain the decline in self esteem that occurs in old age,” Robins said.