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Wherever I may roam: Processes of self-esteem development from adolescence to emerging adulthood in the context of international student exchange
Hutteman, R., Nestler, S., Wagner, J., Egloff, B., Back, M. D.

Wherever I may roam: Processes of self-esteem development from adolescence to emerging adulthood in the context of international student exchange

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(5), 767-783. 10.1037/pspp0000015

Previous studies on self-esteem development show substantial changes as well as interindividual differences in change from adolescence to young adulthood. However, the processes underlying these developmental trajectories are still not well understood. The aim of the present study was to shed light on the macro- and microprocesses of self-esteem development. We investigated a sample of 876 German high school students (M = 16.0 years at Time 1) participating in an international exchange year. Exchange students provided 3 waves of trait self-esteem data (shortly before they departed, immediately after return, and 1 year later), as well as 9 monthly state measures of self-esteem and social inclusion during their stay abroad. In addition, a control group of high school students who stayed in Germany (N = 714) provided 2 waves of trait self-esteem data. From a macroperspective, results showed an effect of student exchange on trait self-esteem development: Exchange students showed a steeper mean-level increase and a lower rank-order stability compared with control students. Zooming in on the microprocesses underlying these developmental patterns, we found trait changes in exchange students to be mediated by state changes in self-esteem during their exchange. These fluctuations in state self-esteem were found to be predicted by feelings of social inclusion in the host country, and vice versa, providing support for both sociometer and self-broadcasting perspectives on self-esteem dynamics. In sum, our findings emphasize the importance of incorporating a microanalytical approach when investigating self-esteem development by showing that the environment triggers changes in this relatively stable personality trait through changes in states. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)