The Role of Conditional Parental Regard and Excessively Contingent Self-Esteem in Children's Peer Relationships

Open Access
Kollat, Sarah Holowach
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 26, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Keith E Nelson, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Sandra T Azar, Committee Member
  • Robert Lee Burgess, Committee Member
  • Sherry Erhard Corneal, Committee Member
  • friendship jealousy
  • aggression
  • self-esteem
  • parenting
  • peers
  • contingent self-esteem
  • prosocial behavior
  • bistrategic controllers
The current study sought to further clarify the construct of self-esteem in adolescence, the antecedents of adolescent self-esteem, and peer outcomes associated with different configurations of self-esteem. Previous work has suggested that self-esteem is a multifaceted construct, with one promising new facet being excessively contingent self-esteem. It was hypothesized that adolescents with excessively contingent self-esteem would be strongly invested in their social status and relationships, leading them to employ aggressive, jealous, and prosocial behaviors as a means of defending and/or promoting their social goals. Likewise, overly conditional parenting styles were predicted to contribute to children's introjection of values and behaviors, likewise leading to the development of excessively contingent self-esteem. Participants included 264 seventh and eighth grade students attending an ethnically diverse, urban middle school. Results confirm the current study's predictions, although the strength of the proposed relationships differs according to ethnicity and sex. Results support the conclusion that excessively contingent self-esteem motivates children to engage in both aggressive and prosocial behaviors within the peer group. The need to clarify the extent to which these behaviors are instrumental, as opposed to reactive, in nature is discussed.