Implicit and explicit self-esteem and their reciprocal relationship with symptoms of depression and social anxiety: A longitudinal study in adolescents

Lonneke A. van Tuijl*, Peter J. de Jong, B. Esther Sportel, Eva de Hullu, Maaike H. Nauta

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    99 Citations (Scopus)


    Background and Objectives: A negative self-view is a prominent factor in most cognitive vulnerability models of depression and anxiety. Recently, there has been increased attention to differentiate between the implicit (automatic) and the explicit (reflective) processing of self-related evaluations. This longitudinal study aimed to test the association between implicit and explicit self-esteem and symptoms of adolescent depression and social anxiety disorder. Two complementary models were tested: the vulnerability model and the scarring effect model.

    Method: Participants were 1641 first and second year pupils of secondary schools in the Netherlands. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, self-esteem Implicit Association Test and Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale were completed to measure explicit self-esteem, implicit self-esteem and symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), respectively, at baseline and two-year follow-up.

    Results: Explicit self-esteem at baseline was associated with symptoms of MDD and SAD at follow-up. Symptomatology at baseline was not associated with explicit self-esteem at follow-up. Implicit self-esteem was not associated with symptoms of MDD or SAD in either direction.

    Limitations: We relied on self-report measures of MDD and SAD symptomatology. Also, findings are based on a non-clinical sample.

    Conclusions: Our findings support the vulnerability model, and not the scarring effect model. The implications of these findings suggest support of an explicit self-esteem intervention to prevent increases in MDD and SAD symptomatology in non-clinical adolescents. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-121
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2014


    • Adolescents
    • Self-esteem
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Depression
    • Implicit association
    • RISK

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