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Self Identity. 2011;10(4):445-473.

Adolescent Self-Esteem: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age.

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Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 426 Thompson St., P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248, 734-763-5043, 734-936-0043 (fax),


Large-scale representative surveys of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States show high self-esteem scores for all groups. African-American students score highest, Whites score slightly higher than Hispanics, and Asian Americans score lowest. Males score slightly higher than females. Multivariate controls for grades and college plans actually heighten these race/ethnic/gender differences. A truncated scoring method, designed to counter race/ethnic differences in extreme response style, reduced but did not eliminate the subgroup differences. Age differences in self-esteem are modest, with 12th graders reporting the highest scores. The findings are highly consistent across 18 annual surveys from 1991 through 2008, and self-esteem scores show little overall change during that period.

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