Longitudinal relations between adolescents' self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends and family

J Adolesc. 2017 Jun:57:90-98. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


The present study examined age-trends and longitudinal bidirectional relations in self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends, and family over a four-year time period (age 11 to 14). A total of 681 adolescents were recruited in the United States (51% girls, 28% single parent families). A longitudinal panel model was conducted and the results showed that adolescent self-esteem was associated longitudinally with subsequent prosocial behavior toward strangers, and earlier prosocial behavior toward strangers promoted subsequent self-esteem. There were no such bidirectional relations between self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward friends and family. Findings also highlight the complexity of adolescent development of selfesteem and the multidimensional nature of prosocial behavior. Discussion focuses on understanding the dynamic interplay between adolescent selfesteem and prosocial behavior.

Keywords: Longitudinal panel model; Prosocial behavior; Self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Child
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior*
  • United States