Predictors of self-esteem lability among people with and without a history of depression

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Adele M. Hayes, Committee Chair


Past research has indicated that self-esteem lability prospectively predicts symptoms of depression. The primary goal of the current study was to examine contributors to self-esteem lability, in an effort to better understand why lability occurs. Four components of Roberts and Monroe's (1994) theoretical model of vulnerable self-esteem (limited sources of self-esteem, negative schemas, negative overgeneralization, and occurrence of adverse events) were investigated as predictors of lability in global self-esteem. Participants included 149 college students with and without a history of depression symptoms. After an initial assessment session, participants completed ratings of self-esteem, depressed mood, and adverse events for 14 days. Results revealed that adverse events (particularly interpersonal events) and negative overgeneralization made unique contributions to the prediction of self-esteem lability. Participants who were formerly or currently depressed exhibited greater endorsement of the defectiveness schema, negative overgeneralization, total number of adverse events, extent of self-esteem lability, and extent of depressed mood lability. Results of this study provide additional support for Roberts and Monroe's (1994) theoretical model of vulnerable self-esteem, and help focus theory and interventions by elucidating why self-esteem lability occurs.


Psychology, Clinical

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