The Development of Self-Esteem and the Role of Agency and Communion: A Longitudinal Study among Chinese

Feifei Chen, Shimin Zhu, Chongzeng Bi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


There is a long and rich history of research on self-esteem in children. However, little is known about developmental changes in self-esteem and the association between self-esteem and two basic dimensions of social cognition. This study aims to examine the developmental trajectory of self-esteem and its relationships with two basic dimensions of social cognition: agency and communion among 276 Chinese elementary school students by a two-wave 1-year longitudinal study. Agentic characteristics aid in achieving goals, while communion refers to qualities that aid in social relationships. Both play a part in children’s developing self-esteem to varying degrees. The changes in self-esteem on mean-level and individual-level and the rank-order stability of self-esteem were assessed and the results showed that the development of self-esteem was relatively stable but with some fluctuations during childhood, and no gender difference was found in its development in a Chinese setting. Hierarchical regression was used to test the association of agency and communion with self-esteem and the findings showed that children’s self-esteem was dominated by agency over communion in general; however, when grade was taken into consideration, the predictive effect of agency and communion on children’s self-esteem changed from communion to agency from younger to older children, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-824
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Agency
  • Children
  • Communion
  • Development
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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