Longitudinal Effects of Examination Stress on Psychological Well-Being and a Possible Mediating Role of Self-Esteem in Chinese High School Students

Abstract

Through using a latent growth curve model (LGCM), the present study investigated longitudinal relationships between examination stress, self-esteem, and psychological well-being in Chinese high school students. This paper presents results of a three-wave longitudinal study among 248 Chinese high school students who were followed over the course of one semester. The students completed questionnaires about once every 2 months from the beginning to the end of a school semester for a total of three questionnaires including the shorten version of Academic Stress Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Chinese version of Psychological Well-Being Scale. The results obtained from latent growth curve modeling (LGCM) showed that the initial examination stress level negatively predicted the students’ initial level of psychological well-being. Also, changes in examination stress over time negatively predicted changes in psychological well-being. In addition, self-esteem can mediate the effects of examination stress on psychological well-being: first, initial level of examination stress can influence the initial level of psychological well-being via self-esteem; second, examination stress at Time 1 predicted psychological well-being at Time 3 mediated by self-esteem at Time 2. These findings contributed the theoretical explanation about the effect of stress in damaging psychological well-being and the mediating mechanism of self-esteem. There are also some practical implications on improving psychological well-being among the high school students through reducing the levels of examination stress.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank National Nature Science Foundation of China (31200778) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (15SZTZ01) for funding this research. We thank Drs. Rhoda E. and Edmund F. Perozzi for their extensive review and English language assistance on this paper.

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Correspondence to Baoshan Zhang.

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Xiang, Z., Tan, S., Kang, Q. et al. Longitudinal Effects of Examination Stress on Psychological Well-Being and a Possible Mediating Role of Self-Esteem in Chinese High School Students. J Happiness Stud 20, 283–305 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9948-9

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Keywords

  • LGCM
  • Psychological well-being
  • Examination stress
  • Adolescents