Self-Concept Clarity Across Adolescence: Longitudinal Associations With Open Communication With Parents and Internalizing Symptoms
Higher self-concept clarity is related to several adjustment indices and may be promoted by open communication with parents, while problems with self-concept clarity development could enhance internalizing problems (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptoms) in adolescence. This longitudinal study examined linkages between self-concept clarity, adolescents’ open communication with parents, and adolescent depressive and anxiety symptoms. Dutch youths (N = 323; 51.1 % girls; mean age Time 1 = 13.3 years) reported on these constructs over four consecutive annual measurements. Concurrent positive links between open communication and self-concept clarity were found at Time 1. Over time, higher levels of open communication with parents predicted higher self-concept clarity only in middle adolescence (mean age between 14 and 15 years). We also found concurrent associations between self-concept clarity and both depressive and anxiety symptoms. Longitudinally, lower self-concept clarity predicted relatively higher levels of depressive symptoms across all waves, and also higher anxiety levels from Time 1 to Time 2. Conversely, higher levels of anxiety also predicted lower levels of self-concept clarity during the first three waves. Self-concept clarity did not mediate the longitudinal associations between open communication and internalizing symptoms. This study is one of the first to investigate self-concept clarity across adolescence. It highlights the possible importance of both anxiety symptoms and communication with parents in understanding the development of a clear self-concept, and demonstrates an association between lower self-concept clarity and higher levels of later depressive and anxiety symptoms.
KeywordsAdolescence Self-concept clarity Open communication Internalizing problems
This study was supported by grants to Wim Meeus and Susan Branje from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).
M.P.A.D. conceived of the study, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the results, and wrote the manuscript. S.B. participated in the conceiving of the study, the data analysis, the interpretation of the results and the drafting of the manuscript. L.K. helped with the statistical analyses and participated in the interpretation of the results and in the drafting of the manuscript. W.M. participated in the interpretation of the results and revised the manuscript. W.M. is also the principal investigator of the CONAMORE project and is responsible for the data collection. S.T.H. participated in the drafting of the manuscript, and S.T.H. and W.W.H. revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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