People’s self-esteem peaks when they hit 60-years-old, research finds.
Indeed, most people find their self-esteem is slowly strengthening over the years, right through from adolescence and into middle adulthood.
In adolescence, people’s self-esteem remains relatively flat, but in childhood, as in adulthood, it generally climbs upwards.
The 20s is usually when people feel the biggests gains to their self-esteem as they become more independent.
After this, the ascent towards peak self-esteem is slow but steady.
This is likely because midlife tends to be a relatively stable period in life.
The results come from almost 200 different studies including 165,000 people from ages four to ninety-four.
The study’s authors explain the results:
“This meta-analysis shows that people’s self-esteem changes in systematic ways over the life course.
On average, self-esteem increases in early and middle childhood, remains constant (but does not decline) in adolescence, increases strongly in young adulthood, continues to increase in middle adulthood, peaks between age 60 and 70 years, and then declines in old age, with a
sharper drop in very old age.
The pattern of findings holds across gender, country, ethnicity, and birth cohort.
Self-esteem was long thought to be unchangeable, just like personality.
But that view has changed, the authors write:
“Self-esteem is by no means an immutable characteristic of individuals.
People experience changes in their self-esteem, both in terms of temporary boosts or drops in their feelings of self-worth and in terms of long-term increases or declines in their general level of self-esteem.
For example, successes at school, work conflicts, or harmonious family events may cause transient fluctuations in self-esteem.
Also, stressful life events, such as a criminal victimization, and life transitions, such as beginning a satisfying romantic relationship, may lead to sustained changes in self-esteem.”
The study was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin (Oorth et al., 2018).