Antecedents, consequences, and mechanisms: On the longitudinal interplay between academic self-enhancement and psychological adjustment

Michael Dufner*, Anne K. Reitz, Lysann Zander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the reciprocal associations between academic self-enhancement and key indicators of intra- and interpersonal adjustment as well as the role of self-esteem as a mediator. This longitudinal study involved three assessments in a sample of 709 German children and adolescents (M-age=11.83; 54% female) over the course of one academic year. We assessed self-reported subjective well-being as an indicator of intrapersonal adjustment and peer-reported popularity as an indicator of interpersonal adjustment. We computed cross-lagged and longitudinal mediational analyses. Academic self-enhancement prospectively predicted high subsequent well-being and popularity. Vice versa, well-being and popularity prospectively predicted high subsequent levels of self-enhancement. High self-esteem mediated the longitudinal associations between self-enhancement and well-being in both directions, but not the links between self-enhancement and popularity. Self-enhancement and adjustment are bidirectionally linked: Self-enhancement entails intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits; at the same time, adjustment in both domains fosters self-enhancement. In terms of intrapersonal, but not interpersonal adjustment, self-esteem seems to serve as a linchpin, accounting for all longitudinal associations. Furthermore, we present evidence indicating that self-enhancement indicators that are based on difference scores (instead of residuals) are problematic and might have led to negatively biased results in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-522
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality
Volume83
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • POSITIVE ILLUSIONS
  • LIFE SATISFACTION
  • ESTEEM
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • PERSONALITY
  • PERFORMANCE
  • PERCEPTION
  • NARCISSISM

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