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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.
Dr. Kali Trzesniewski,
Oct 31, 2011, 10:58 AM