Structure and Change in Self-Concept During Adolescence

We investigated the longitudinal changes in multiple domains of self-concept over a two-year period, for 518 high school students, using a multioccasion-multicohort design. We were interested in identifying gender and age effects, as well as in examining the hierarchical nature of self-concept by determining the domains of self-concept that are most predictive of one's overall sense of self-worth. Using Harter's Self-Perception Profile, we found that most domains of self-concept increase with age, although perceived scholastic competence decreases. There were several gender differences, all of which replicated known discrepancies in the literature. In addition, perceptions of appearance were most closely tied to general self-worth, and this pattern was stable over time. As well, we found that current and changing levels of the various domains of self-concept were the best predictors of change that occurred in overall self-worth. Finally, we found that weighting the various domains of self-concept by the importance that each individual places on that domain did not improve the predictive power of specific domains to general self-worth. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)