SELF-ESTEEM AND INCOME OVER TIME 6 Self-Esteem and Income Over Time Student Name Institution Affiliation Date


Self-Esteem and Income Over Time

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In their article titled
“Self-esteem and income over time” Bleidorn et al. (2023) examine the association between income and self-esteem in a longitudinal manner while focusing on a cross-sectional sample of 4,230 Dutch adults. The first objective was to determine whether income affects self-esteem or vice versa by analyzing the within-person and between- person relations in the longitudinal context. This study is non-experimental in that it does not involve a manipulation or assignment of the participants to different groups and studying naturally occurring relationships between variables – income and self-esteem. This can be deduced from the research design, which comprises of tracking these variables at different time points within the same people.

The independent variable (IV) and dependent variable (DV) are interchangeable in this research depending on which way the investigation is being conducted. For example, when conducting a study on how a change in income affects the level of self-esteem, then income is the IV while self-esteem is the DV. On the other hand, when comparing the nature of relationship that exists between self-esteem and income, self-esteem is the independent variable while income is the dependent variable (Bleidorn et al. (2023). Income was operationally defined as the participant’s reported annual earnings while self-esteem was assessed using a standardized self-esteem inventory filled by participants every year. While the concrete method of self-esteem assessment is not described in the abstract, it often encompasses specific scales, for instance, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

The study used a sample of Dutch adults who filled annual questionnaires about their income earning capacity and self-esteem for four years. Although, there is no information within the abstract concerning the methods of data collection being online, face-to-face, or otherwise, it can be inferred that participants had to complete annual surveys or questionnaires. Randomization was not done since the study was comparative, cross-sectional, and the comparison was done on the same individuals at two different time points.

Based on the findings of this study, there were between-person correlation differences indicating that individuals with higher income have higher self-esteem as suggested in previous research studies. This points to a higher impact of income on future changes in self-esteem levels (Bleidorn et al., 2023). The generality of these findings were further enhanced as they did not change even when a covariate of employment status was used while they were consistent across gender, age, and education levels. All in all, the findings of the study align with theories categorizing self-esteem as both a cause and an effect of personal earnings with a specific focus on the phenomenon of income as the enhancer of self-esteem in the long term. This study enriches knowledge regarding the link between income and self-esteem, indicating that an increase in the material status has a positive effect on individuals’ self-conception and mental health.


The study done by Bleidorn et al. (2023) offers useful information on income and self-esteem but the following aspects are worthy of critical analysis to appreciate the strength and implications of the findings in their entirety.

First, due to the presence of potential confounding factors, this study may also be affected. Despite employing employment status as a covariate, other factors that can affect both self-esteem and income at the same time may include mental health, social support, and levels of personality. For example, a person’s emotional well-being has implications on his/her economic productivity and personal worth. If these variables are not well managed, they might distort outcomes and create the impression that income influences self-esteem, something which could be due to other factors. Thus, future research should include these variables in their studies to better capture the complexities of the income–self-esteem relationship.

Second, there were over 4,000 adult participants involved in the survey, and the sample was nationally representative, which may enhance the external validity of the study; however, certain Dutch cultural characteristics could negatively affect the interpretation of the results in other cultures. Paying capabilities and self-esteem fluctuations might change depending on cultural and economic settings. Hence, it would be important to conduct the same study in different cultural populations to increase the likelihood of external validity. The structure of the study makes it possible to replicate; however, the generalizability of the noted relations requires cross-cultural examination.

Third, measurement of self-esteem by means of standardized tests like Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale often provides a high level of validity. Validity is a measurement of how effectively an instrument is able to capture the intended construct. In this regard, the self-esteem inventory may be useful in measuring participants’ self-esteem accurately. However, self-report measures can sometimes be affected by social desirability bias whereby participants answer questions in a way they believe to be more socially acceptable. The inclusion of extra procedures like the behavioral measurements or peer questionnaires would help in increasing the reliability of the self-esteem measurements.

In sum, the research of Bleidorn et al. (2023) provides valuable insights into income and self-esteem. Nonetheless, to rule out other factors influencing the results, it would be useful to replicate the study with a different sample from various cultural backgrounds, use more refined measures of the constructs involved, and consider other possible explanations of the findings.

Brief Summary

Examining the longitudinal correlation between income and self-esteem in a sample of 4,000 plus Dutch adults over four years, Bleidorn et al. (2023). The study also reveals within-subject correlations, thus supporting the hypothesis that personal income is positively connected with self-esteem. Day-level analysis shows that changes in self-esteem are more likely to be driven by prior changes in income rather than the other way around, which is consistent across levels of gender, age, and education. The present research focuses on the importance of income as a predictor of self-esteem changes, expanding the knowledge of the effects of income on psychological states.


Bleidorn, W., Kretzschmar, A., Rauthmann, J. F., Orth, U., Denissen, J. J., & Hopwood, C. J. (2023). Self-esteem and income over time. Psychological science, 34(10), 1163-1172.

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