Early implicit-explicit discrepancies in self-esteem as correlates of childhood depressive symptoms.

Published on Dec 1, 2020in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
· DOI :10.1016/J.JECP.2020.104962
Dario Cvencek11
Estimated H-index: 11
(UW: University of Washington),
Anthony G. Greenwald111
Estimated H-index: 111
(UW: University of Washington)
+ 1 AuthorsAndrew N. Meltzoff112
Estimated H-index: 112
(UW: University of Washington)
Abstract This longitudinal study examined early social–cognitive markers that might be associated with the emergence of childhood depression and anxiety. At 5 years of age, 137 children completed an implicit self-esteem measure. At 9 years of age, the same children completed measures of implicit self-esteem, explicit self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Two novel findings emerged. First, higher implicit self-esteem at age 5 than explicit self-esteem at age 9 (implicit > explicit discrepancy) was associated with depressive symptoms at age 9, but not with symptoms of anxiety. Second, this cross-age implicit > explicit discrepancy was associated with depressive symptoms more strongly than was the same implicit > explicit discrepancy measured concurrently at age 9. The overall pattern suggests that the appearance of depressive symptoms in children is associated with discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-esteem and not just lower levels of implicit self-esteem or lower levels of explicit self-esteem taken alone. It is the direction and discrepancy across time that is particularly informative, such that discrepancies between early implicit representations and later explicit reports of self-worth reflect a developmental pathway associated with elevated risk for depressive symptoms. Taken altogether, this study illustrates the benefits of combining work in developmental, child-clinical, and social psychology to provide a more complete view of the developing child. We believe that combining implicit and explicit measures of self-esteem across developmental time points can be used to examine early markers of depression in children at younger ages than typically possible with explicit measures alone.
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