Relationship between Self-esteem and Internalizing and Externalizing in Children: Based on a Latent Profile Analysis
This study explored the different categories of children's self-esteem through a latent profile analysis and examined the internal and external characteristics of children’s self-esteem. A questionnaire survey was administered to 1189 children aged 8–15 years. Latent profile analysis was performed on the potential types of self-esteem. Pearson correlation and variance analysis were performed to explore the relationships and the differences in self-esteem categories on all outcomes. Children's self-esteem could be divided into four categories: lower, low, high, and higher. There were significant differences among the four groups of children at the level of internalization and externalization. Negative internalization showed a successive decrease for the lower, low, high and higher groups. Positive internalization increased sequentially for the lower, low (or high group), and higher groups. Positive externalization was the highest in children with higher self-esteem. Latent profile analysis distinguished the latent categories of children's self-esteem and provided a new perspective for research on this field. Improving self-esteem can reduce negative emotions and behavior, but it does not increase positive emotions and behavior.
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The research participants were Chinese children who were recruited through cluster sampling. A total of 1350 children from grades three to eight in four primary and secondary schools were selected for the questionnaire survey. The identity of the children was kept anonymous. Questionnaires with missing items, and those that were irregularly completed, were rejected, whereafter 1189 valid questionnaires remained, with an effective response rate of 88.70%. The average of this sample was 12.38 years (SD = 1.52). There were 570 male students (48.06%), 616 female students (51.94%), and three persons with undisclosed gender. There were 86 students in grade three (7.23%), 115 students in grade four (9.67%), 101 students in grade five (8.49%), 99 students in grade six (8.33%), 415 students in grade seven (34.90%), and 373 students in grade eight (31.37%). In this study, a self-rating scale was used to measure the sample, and a psychology graduate student was used as the main researcher. Prior to the beginning of the study, the informed consent of the school and the students was obtained.