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Baby Boomers Experience Declining Self-Esteem

Posted: April 5, 2010

Because self-esteem begins to decline after 60, your Baby Boomer clients may benefit from treatments, classes and special events that focus on raising their self-esteem.

Self-esteem rises steadily as people age but starts declining around the time of retirement, according to a longitudinal study of men and women ranging in age from 25 to 104.

"Self-esteem is related to better health, less criminal behavior, lower levels of depression and, overall, greater success in life," said the study's lead author, Ulrich Orth, PhD. "Therefore, it's important to learn more about how the average person's self-esteem changes over time."

Self-esteem was lowest among young adults but increased throughout adulthood, peaking at 60, before it started to decline. These results are reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Four times between 1986 and 2002, researchers surveyed a total of 3,617 adults living in the United States. The researchers measured self-esteem by asking participants to rate their level of agreement with statements such as, "I take a positive attitude toward myself," which suggests high self-esteem; "At times I think I am no good at all" and "All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure," which both suggest low self-esteem.