Intraindividual Stability and Change in the Adolescent Self-concept

Jami Lauren Finkelson, Fordham University


The level and stability of both global and domain-specific self-concepts was examined in a study of adolescents, aged 11 to 20. Data were obtained for 253 adolescents from four different schools at four timepoints over the course of a year. Participants were asked to complete a self-report measure of self-concept at each of the four timepoints to assess level of self-concept and self-concept change during adolescence. Individual trajectories of change in self-concept were calculated through growth curve modeling. Six of the domains had slopes that were not significantly different from zero, indicating stability: global self-worth, scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, behavioral conduct, and close friendships. The remaining three domains—job competence, romantic appeal, and physical appearance—had average positive slopes that were significantly different from zero, indicating a significant increase in perceived competency in these domains. In addition to examining differences in the average intercepts and slopes of the various domains, individual growth curve modeling highlighted differences among individuals. There were individual differences in both level of self-concept and change in self-concept for each of the domains. Demographic variables and recent school transition were used to account for the individual differences in trajectories. Individual differences in level of self-concept and self-concept change were partially accounted for by demographic variables which suggests that these variables, particularly age and gender, are important in determining the self-concept trajectories of adolescents. Supplementary analyses indicated that there were differences among the students at different schools, suggesting that the school environment plays an important role in determining the self-concept of students.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Finkelson, Jami Lauren, "Intraindividual Stability and Change in the Adolescent Self-concept" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3017548.