StudyCorgi Psychology

Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship

Topic Endorsement

Research Topic

The topic which is proposed to be studied is the relationship between depression and self-esteem. In this case, self-esteem can be defined as “individual’s subjective evaluation of his or her worth as a person”; it does not necessarily describe one’s real talents, and high self-esteem does not mean an individual feels superior to others (Orth, Robins, Meier, & Conger, 2016, p. 134). On the other hand, depression can be understood as a state which is characterized by several interrelated cognitive, physiological, and affective symptoms; these symptoms include sadness, the lack of ability to feel pleasure, the dearth of concentration, hopelessness, and problems with sleep (Orth & Robins, 2013, pp. 455-456).

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Both levels of depression and levels of self-esteem can be measured as continuous variables (Orth & Robins, 2013; Sowislo & Orth, 2013; Steiger, Allemand, Robins, & Fend, 2014), and the relationship between these variables will be assessed in the proposed research study. It is expected that lower levels of self-esteem will be a risk factor for depression (i.e., that self-esteem will serve as one of the factors affecting the levels of depression) (Millings, Buck, Montgomery, Spears, & Stallard, 2012; Orth & Robins, 2013; Orth, Robins, Widaman, & Conger, 2014; Sowislo & Orth, 2013).

The offered topic of study is practically significant because depression is a prevalent disorder not only in the U.S. but also worldwide, and it is stated that the major depressive disorder was the 4th leading case of disability in the world in 2012 and that it is expected to be the 2nd leading cause of such disability in 2020 (Kessler, 2012).

This topic is significant to the field of psychology because psychology deals with the individuals’ behaviors, mind, and mental states, and depression, as has been stressed before, involves several cognitive and affective symptoms; self-esteem is also connected to several psychological factors and might be considered a psychological phenomenon; so it is important to establish and describe the connection between the two phenomena further.

Finally, the topic is significant to the specialization of general psychology because it concerns the relationship of two psychological phenomena which are assumed to be correlated, and which may develop in an individual in conditions that appear normal in the contemporary society. It should be stressed that the topic does not belong to the field of clinical psychology because it does not focus on the treatment of clinical depression, it only seeks to describe one of the causes of depression which exists in the normal setting, and probably to show a way to lower the prevalence of depression outside the clinical setting (Muñoz, Beardslee, & Leykin, 2012). The target population will include adult persons with low levels of self-esteem and suffering from depression.

Research Problem

It will be offered to check whether enhancing self-esteem might lower the levels of depression. According to the research literature, it is apparent that there exists a correlation between the levels of self-esteem and depression (Orth et al., 2014). It is stated that lower self-esteem might predict a higher incidence of depression (Sowislo & Orth, 2013). This is called the vulnerability model because according to it, lower self-esteem makes an individual vulnerable to depression (Orth & Robins, 2013).

The vulnerability model was tested in several studies, and evidence was found to support it (Orth & Robins, 2013; Orth et al., 2016; Sowislo & Orth, 2013; Steiger et al., 2014). Therefore, it might be considered that it is known that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression. As a result, it appears logical to assume that enhancing self-esteem should decrease depression.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

However, even though some older studies show that certain kinds of psychological/cognitive therapy simultaneously increased self-esteem and lowered the rates of depression, it is unclear whether an intervention purposefully enhancing self-esteem only (and not aimed at depression, as much as this is possible) could lower the rates of depression, which constitutes a knowledge gap. Therefore, the research problem for the offered study is to find out whether enhancing persons’ self-esteem via an intervention purposefully not aimed at addressing depression may lower the risk of developing more severe depression or decrease the existing level of depression.

Research Overview

Research Problem Background

A wide range of literature considers the issues of self-esteem and depression together (Behnke, Plunkett, Sands, & Bámaca-Colbert, 2011; Buhrmester, Blanton, & Swann, 2011; Derdikman‐Eiron et al., 2011; El Kissi et al., 2013; Erol & Orth, 2011; Forest & Wood, 2012; Luciano & Orth, 2017; Neff, 2011; Orth & Luciano, 2015; Orth, Maes, & Schmitt, 2015; Specht et al., 2014), indicating that there might exist an association between them (Elion, Wang, Slaney, & French, 2012; Lee-Flynn, Pomaki, DeLongis, Biesanz, & Puterman, 2011; Rey, Extremera, & Pena, 2011; Valiente et al., 2011; Witherspoon, Latta, Wang, & Black, 2013; Zeiders, Umaña-Taylor, & Derlan, 2013).

Two main models of such a relationship existed: the scar model, according to which depression reduces self-esteem (Orth & Robins, 2013; Sowislo & Orth, 2013), and the vulnerability model, according to which low self-esteem makes one vulnerable to depression (Orth et al., 2016; Orth et al., 2014; Zeigler-Hill, 2011). However, the vulnerability model has received greater support in the literature (Lee, Dickson, Conley, & Holmbeck, 2014; Orth et al., 2014; Orth et al., 2016; Steiger et al., 2014; van Tuijl, de Jong, Sportel, de Hullu, & Nauta, 2014; Zeigler-Hill, 2011). Nevertheless, it is stressed that the scar model has also received “a fair amount of support” (Zeigler-Hill, 2011, p. 159), for instance, in older studies.

Also, some sources conclude that low self-esteem might directly add to the risk of depression (Orth et al., 2016); the mechanism is explained, for example, by Zeigler-Hill (2011), who states that people with low self-esteem have weaker coping capabilities than those with high self-esteem. On the contrary, other sources conclude that the effect of self-esteem on depression is mediated by anxiety (Al Nima, Rosenberg, Archer, & Garcia, 2013) and rumination (Kuster, Orth, & Meier, 2012).

Creemers, Scholte, Engels, Prinstein, and Wiers (2012) suggest an even more complicated mechanism, according to which lower explicit self-esteem, as well as the size of the discrepancy between explicit and implicit self-esteem, are associated with stronger symptoms of depression; similar issues are considered by de Jong, Sportel, de Hullu, and Nauta (2012).

On the whole, therefore, even though it appears that problems with self-esteem are associated with depression (Orth & Robins, 2014; Orth, Robins, & Widaman, 2012; Steiger et al., 2014), it is not completely clear whether greater self-esteem can reduce depression once the latter is present. Thus, it is possible to propose a study investigating the impact of therapy specifically targeted at increasing self-esteem (and not treating depression) on the level of depression among individuals suffering from it.

Research Question

The primary research question will be as follows: “Can an intervention purposefully targeted at increasing self-esteem and not aimed at lowering the levels of depression decrease the levels of depression among adult individuals suffering from mild to moderate depression?”

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

A sub-question that may also be addressed is: “Is the effect of self-esteem on depression mediated by anxiety?” (Al Nima et al., 2013).

Methodology and Basic Design Overview

The research problem should be studied using a quantitative method because this problem requires that a relationship between several constructs is investigated in its dynamics; these constructs can be measures using quantitative means. A qualitative study would be inappropriate because it could only textually describe the constructs, but not measure the strength of their presence in individuals, and not describe the relationship between these constructs.

The research design of the proposed study will be quasi-experimental because it is expected that it will be possible to recruit participants and manipulate the independent variable (self-esteem) via an intervention; however, it is not clear whether it will be possible to randomly assign the participants to the treatment and control groups because some participants might want to undergo an intervention, whereas others may choose to refuse. This design is appropriate for answering the research question because it allows for assessing the impact of increasing self-esteem on the rates of depression and to examine the relationship between these two notions (depression and self-esteem) in its dynamics.

Participants with low self-esteem and with mild to moderate depression will be recruited and assigned to the experimental or control groups. The data about their self-esteem, depression, and anxiety will be collected before the intervention and after it. The data will be statistically analyzed using an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to test whether there was a statistically significant difference between the levels of depression before and after the treatment while statistically controlling for the effects of self-esteem before and after the intervention.

To find out if anxiety mediates the relationship between self-esteem and depression, it is possible to carry out several regression analyses testing such a relationship.

Dissertation Title

Can purposefully increasing self-esteem lower the levels of depression?


Al Nima, A., Rosenberg, P., Archer, T., & Garcia, D. (2013). Anxiety, affect, self-esteem, and stress: Mediation and moderation effects on depression. PLoS One, 8(9), e73265. Web.

Behnke, A. O., Plunkett, S. W., Sands, T., & Bámaca-Colbert, M. Y. (2011). The relationship between Latino adolescents’ perceptions of discrimination, neighborhood risk, and parenting on self-esteem and depressive symptoms. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(7), 1179-1197. Web.

Need a
100% original paper
written from scratch

by professional
specifically for you?
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Buhrmester, M. D., Blanton, H., & Swann Jr, W. B. (2011). Implicit self-esteem: Nature, measurement, and a new way forward. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(2), 365-385. Web.

Creemers, D. H., Scholte, R. H., Engels, R. C., Prinstein, M. J., & Wiers, R. W. (2012). Implicit and explicit self-esteem as concurrent predictors of suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms, and loneliness. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 43(1), 638-646. Web.

De Jong, P. J., Sportel, B. E., de Hullu, E., & Nauta, M. H. (2012). Co-occurrence of social anxiety and depression symptoms in adolescence: Differential links with implicit and explicit self-esteem? Psychological Medicine, 42(03), 475-484. Web.

Derdikman‐Eiron, R., Indredavik, M. S., Bratberg, G. H., Taraldsen, G., Bakken, I. J., & Colton, M. (2011). Gender differences in subjective well‐being, self‐esteem and psychosocial functioning in adolescents with symptoms of anxiety and depression: Findings from the Nord‐Trøndelag health study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 52(3), 261-267. Web.

El Kissi, Y., Romdhane, A. B., Hidar, S., Bannour, S., Idrissi, K. A., Khairi, H., & Ali, B. B. H. (2013). General psychopathology, anxiety, depression and self-esteem in couples undergoing infertility treatment: a comparative study between men and women. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 167(2), 185-189. Web.

Elion, A. A., Wang, K. T., Slaney, R. B., & French, B. H. (2012). Perfectionism in African American students: Relationship to racial identity, GPA, self-esteem, and depression. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(2), 118-127. Web.

Erol, R. Y., & Orth, U. (2011). Self-esteem development from age 14 to 30 years: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(3), 607-619. Web.

Forest, A. L., & Wood, J. V. (2012). When social networking is not working: Individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychological Science, 23(3), 295-302. Web.

Kessler, R. C. (2012). The costs of depression. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 35(1), 1-13. Web.

Kuster, F., Orth, U., & Meier, L. L. (2012). Rumination mediates the prospective effect of low self-esteem on depression: A five-wave longitudinal study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 747-759. Web.

Lee, C., Dickson, D. A., Conley, C. S., & Holmbeck, G. N. (2014). A closer look at self-esteem, perceived social support, and coping strategy: A prospective study of depressive symptomatology across the transition to college. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33(6), 560-585. Web.

Lee-Flynn, S. C., Pomaki, G., DeLongis, A., Biesanz, J. C., & Puterman, E. (2011). Daily cognitive appraisals, daily affect, and long-term depressive symptoms: The role of self-esteem and self-concept clarity in the stress process. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(2), 255-268. Web.

Luciano, E. C., & Orth, U. (2017). Transitions in romantic relationships and development of self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, 307-328. Web.

Millings, A., Buck, R., Montgomery, A., Spears, M., & Stallard, P. (2012). School connectedness, peer attachment, and self-esteem as predictors of adolescent depression. Journal of Adolescence, 35(4), 1061-1067. Web.

Muñoz, R. F., Beardslee, W. R., & Leykin, Y. (2012). Major depression can be prevented. American Psychologist, 67(4), 285-295. Web.

Neff, K. D. (2011). Self‐compassion, self‐esteem, and well‐being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(1), 1-12. Web.

Orth, U., & Luciano, E. C. (2015). Self-esteem, narcissism, and stressful life events: Testing for selection and socialization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 707-721. Web.

Orth, U., Maes, J., & Schmitt, M. (2015). Self-esteem development across the life span: A longitudinal study with a large sample from Germany. Developmental Psychology, 51(2), 248-259. Web.

Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2013). Understanding the link between low self-esteem and depression. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(6), 455-460. Web.

Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2014). The development of self-esteem. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 381-387. Web.

Orth, U., Robins, R. W., Meier, L. L., & Conger, R. D. (2016). Refining the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression: Disentangling the effects of genuine self-esteem and narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(1), 133-149. Web.

Orth, U., Robins, R. W., & Widaman, K. F. (2012). Life-span development of self-esteem and its effects on important life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1271-1288. Web.

Orth, U., Robins, R. W., Widaman, K. F., & Conger, R. D. (2014). Is low self-esteem a risk factor for depression? Findings from a longitudinal study of Mexican-origin youth. Developmental Psychology, 50(2), 622-633. Web.

Rey, L., Extremera, N., & Pena, M. (2011). Perceived emotional intelligence, self-esteem and life satisfaction in adolescents. Psychosocial Intervention, 20(2), 227-234. Web.

Sowislo, J. F., & Orth, U. (2013). Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 213-240. Web.

Specht, J., Bleidorn, W., Denissen, J. J. A., Hennecke, M., Hutteman, R., Kandler, C.,…Zimmermann, J. (2014). What drives adult personality development? A comparison of theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence. European Journal of Personality, 28, 216-230. Web.

Steiger, A. E., Allemand, M., Robins, R. W., & Fend, H. A. (2014). Low and decreasing self-esteem during adolescence predict adult depression two decades later. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(2), 325-338. Web.

Valiente, C., Cantero, D., Vázquez, C., Sanchez, Á., Provencio, M., & Espinosa, R. (2011). Implicit and explicit self-esteem discrepancies in paranoia and depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120(3), 691-699. Web.

Van Tuijl, L. A., de Jong, P. J., Sportel, B. E., de Hullu, E., & Nauta, M. H. (2014). Implicit and explicit self-esteem and their reciprocal relationship with symptoms of depression and social anxiety: A longitudinal study in adolescents. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 45(1), 113-121. Web.

Witherspoon, D., Latta, L., Wang, Y., & Black, M. M. (2013). Do depression, self-esteem, body-esteem, and eating attitudes vary by BMI among African American adolescents? Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 38(10), 1112-1120. Web.

Zeiders, K. H., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., & Derlan, C. L. (2013). Trajectories of depressive symptoms and self-esteem in Latino youths: Examining the role of gender and perceived discrimination. Developmental Psychology, 49(5), 1-13. Web.

Zeigler-Hill, V. (2011). The connections between self-esteem and psychopathology. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 41(3), 157-164. Web.

Print Сite this

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2020, December 7). Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship. Retrieved from

Work Cited

"Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship." StudyCorgi, 7 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship." December 7, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship." December 7, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship." December 7, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Depression and Self-Esteem Relationship'. 7 December.

Copy to clipboard

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.

Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!