Positive social relationships boost self-esteem: Study

Researchers have found that positive social relationships, support and acceptance helps shape the development of self-esteem in people.

“For the first time, we have a systematic answer to a key question in the field of self-esteem research: Whether and to what extent a person’s social relationships influence his or her self-esteem development, and vice versa, and at what ages,” said study author Michelle A. Harris from the University of Texas.

“The answer to what age groups are across the life span,” Harris said.

For the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers analysed 52 studies involving more than 47,000 participants (54 per cent female) looking at either the effect of self-esteem on social relationships overtime or the reverse effect.

The studies, all published between 1992 and 2016, included multiple countries like 30 samples from the US, four from Switzerland, three from Germany, two each from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Greece, Russia and Sweden.

Samples ranged from early childhood to late adulthood.

The authors found that positive social relationships, social support and social acceptance help shape the development of self-esteem in people over time across ages four to 76.

They also found a significant effect in the reverse direction.

While earlier research had yielded inconsistent findings, the meta-analysis supports the classic and contemporary theories of the influence of self-esteem on social connections and the influence of social connections on self-esteem, said the researchers.

The findings were the same after accounting for gender and ethnicity.