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Unformatted text preview: Cognitive Therapy and Research, Vol. 28, No. 3, June 2004 ( C 2004), pp. 369385 Predictors of Self-Esteem Variability Adele M. Hayes, 1,2 Melanie S. Harris, 1 and Charles S. Carver 1 Self-esteem (SE) variability has been shown to prospectively predict symptoms of de- pression. We examined four potential contributors to SE variability (limited sources of self-esteem, defectiveness, negative generalization, and adverse events). College stu- dents with and without a history of depression symptoms completed ratings of current self-esteem and adverse events for 14 days. Adverse interpersonal events predicted SE variability, as did their interaction with defectiveness and with generalization. Gen- eralization also contributed uniquely to the prediction of SE variability. More severe symptoms of past depression were associated with more defectiveness, negative gener- alization, adverse events, and SE variability. Results support J. E. Roberts and S. M. Monroes (1994) theoretical model of vulnerable self-esteem and depression and help to elucidate the process by which SE variability occurs. KEY WORDS: self-esteem; ability; variability; vulnerable; depression. . . . feelings about the nature of ones self are at the epicenter of the depression storm. Depressive feelings seem to emanate from and then reflect back on a self that is seen as somehow inadequate, improper, disliked, or damaged. (Karp, 1996, p. 48) A number of theorists have highlighted the central role of self-esteem in de- pression (e.g., Beck, 1967, 1976; Brown & Harris, 1989; Gotlib & Hammen, 1992; Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991). There is growing consensus, however, that it is the variability of self-esteem, rather than whether it is high or low at a given point in time, that can render an individual vulnerable to depression (Butler, Hokanson, & Flynn, 1994; Kernis et al., 1998; Kernis, Paradise, Whitaker, Wheatman, & Goldman, 2000; Roberts & Monroe, 1994). The temporal stability of self-esteem is typically indexed by computing the stan- dard deviation of participants scores across multiple assessments; the larger the stan- dard deviation, the more unstable (variable) ones global self esteem. 3 Self-esteem 1 Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. 2 Correspondence should be directed to Adele M. Hayes, Department of Psychology, University of Miami, 5665 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, Florida 33146-0751; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 This index has been labeled self-esteem stability in studies by Kernis and colleagues. We use the term self-esteem variability because larger standard deviations (more variability) are associated with elevated depression scores. Roberts and colleagues similarly use the term self-esteem lability ....
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