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Collective Self-Esteem Predicts Depression

Collective Self-Esteem Predicts Depression

Can a positive attitude towards our group make us feel less depressed?

self-esteem, collective self-esteem, attitude, positive, depression, correlation, depressed

How people feel about themselves and the social group they belong to might be one of the driving forces behind the growing problem of depression among adolescents, two Indian psychologists figured. Earlier studies already found correlations between self-esteem and depression, but these researchers wanted to dig a little deeper.

They wanted to see whether self-esteem and collective self-esteem can predict depression. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs, like “I am competent” and “I am worthy”, and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. Collective self-esteem refers to feelings and evaluations of your social group, such as a racial, ethnic, or work group.

The researchers first tested 800 people aged 17-23 from Agra city with the Beck Depression Inventory. Then they randomly selected from this sample a hundred participants with a low and a hundred participants with a high level of depression, to compare their levels of self-esteem.

The results showed the expected correlations. Self-esteem and collective self-esteem were positively associated: if you feel good about yourself, you are also more likely to feel positive about your social group or community. More interesting is the negative correlation between both forms of self-esteem and depression. When level of self-esteem increases, the level of depression significantly decreases, and vice versa.

But does that mean that depression lowers self-esteem? Or that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression? To better estimate the answer to this question the researchers did a so called multi regression analysis. They then found that self-esteem was not a significant predictor of depression. The found correlation with self-esteem in the young adults from Agra is probably better explained the other way around: depression influencing self-esteem.

Collective self-esteem, on the other hand, did significantly predict depression in this sample. It suggests that how you feel about your group indeed influences depression a little. How come? The researchers write that this is probably because a positive attitude towards the group or community results in a stronger social support from that group. This support, in turn, prevents depression.

Reference

Photo: Flickr, Spirit-Fire
Source: Shraddha Sharma and Surila Agarwala (2013). Contribution of Self-Esteem and Collective Self-Esteem in Predicting Depression Psychological Thought DOI: 10.5964/psyct.v6i1.50

self-esteem, collective self-esteem, attitude, positive, depression, correlation, depressed

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3 Comments

  • Aonymous
    October 9, 2013, 23:09

    I do not find it suprising that depression effects self- esteem instead of self-esteem effecting depression. It is interesting that your collective self esteem can play a part in influencing depression because we have two very important neurotransmitters in our bodies that are mainly associated with depression. Serotonin, one of the important neurotransmitters, is found in numerous different parts of the brain effecting our moods, sleep, sensory perception, emotions, and depression. Norepinephrine the second important neurotransmitter our brain contains regulates sleep, memory, and functions with our learning process, but along with seritonin if there is a disfuction, it can cause mental disorders like depression. Today there are antidepressant drugs that can be taken to increase the amount of serotonin availible to you in certain parts of your brain to reduce the effect of depression. So it shocks me that something as simple as the attitudes and actions of the people around you can actually influence you to become depressed, and effect the amounts of these neurotransmitters in your brain, instead I would just think it could make you sad, or upset not actaully depressed.

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  • Joshua Goodman
    October 9, 2013, 23:38

    Depression and self esteem definitely have a strange cause/effect. people who are bullied or looked down upon for their social status, or their culture are definitely at serious risk for becoming depressed. People can only make you feel unworthy so many times before you start to believe it yourself. and saying to just ignore it is easier said than done. but the correlation between being depressed and then have low self esteem is interesting. One could say you cant have one without being at risk of having the other

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  • Evan
    October 10, 2013, 02:45

    I would have to agree with the anonymous comment made. There are many different way to become depressed. Although, self-esteem might play a large role, there are numerous factors that could lead to a path of depression. First, I would say that during sleep, your body produces serotonin; a neurotransmitter involved with emotion, sleep, and sensory perception. Serotonin in mainly associated with depression. One might find it very likely that increased sleeping hours, meaning increased levels of serotonin can really affect a persons mood. In some cases, patients are often advised to get less sleep to possibly counteract depression. Secondly, there are many depressants or drugs that serve to inhibit the central nervous system which is highly involved in behavior, function, and mental processing. One of the main depressants out there is alcohol. Some of the psychological effects of alcohol are reduced judgement and self-control due to the cause of it lessening inhibitory functions. If one were to accurately test that self-esteem can predict depression, one might say that you would also have to account for other prominent factors that cause it.

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