Self-esteem is defined as the value with which one perceives themselves. It is an extremely important part of a healthy mental attitude, but is also often a difficult positive perception to achieve.
Many things may factor into self-esteem, such as relationship status, career success, as well as interactions with family and friends. Most tend to agree that the teenage years are when self-esteem is put under the most pressure and may dip, which makes sense given the difficult steps taken from youth into a more adult-oriented life. Though, this was just one popular perception debunked in a recently published paper.
Another interesting question, perhaps not asked enough, is as to which the years are with the highest self-esteem, on average? The paper published by the Psychological Bulletin asked that exact question, and upon revealing the results many were surprised. Not only did the paper clarify self-esteem levels of the teenage years, it also delved into the years where self-esteem was seen to spike.
According to the paper, 60 is the age of highest self-esteem.
The study took place at the University of Bern in Switzerland, involving the analysis of 191 already published articles based around self-esteem. In total, data was analysed that studied 165,000 subjects, providing an extremely broad and far reaching sample base. After the analysis was completed and the data sorted, clear trends began to form. The study found a prominent link between age and self esteem levels.
Co-author of the research paper and a professor of psychology at the University of Bern, Ulrich Orth has much to say about the results. He first went out of his way to clarify how self-esteem evolves with age. According to him, the first major spikes can be seen between the ages of 4 and 11. This is when children first experience a sense of real independence, given that their ability to communicate and operate separately from a parent first begins to fully be understood.
Orth then went on to talk about the teenage years. He explained that, on average, self-esteem does not plummet during these years, as is the popular perception, but rather tended to plateau. This may seem contrary to popular belief, but Orth was quick to assure that he stood by his studies. He pointed out that the awkward teenage years are rather a period when self-esteem does not increase at all, as opposed to a gradual increase over virtually every other period of life. So, the teenage years are still a period of much emotional and developmental turmoil.
Orth then went on to talk about the adolescent years, when personal perceptions then again began to rise. Perhaps due to the fact that as we get older we can enjoy an increasing number of freedoms, such as driving, playing online casino games, or having an alcoholic beverage.
Self Esteem Peak
The increase remains steady, into the 30s, through the 40s, and into the 50s. By the time the 60s are reached, self-perception is hitting an all time peak. This is due, Orth explained, to a more refined understanding and acceptance of social roles, and society in general. Having managed to pay off most of their debts, not having children to generally look after, are amongst many contributing factors of why older people tend to worry less, and focus more on what THEY want. Those in their 60s are, in other words, most comfortable with their place in the world.
He pointed out that the 60s are, on average, also when many will be experiencing their children likewise achieving an age of increased self-esteem. It is, therefore, a time of life seeming to reach a point of balance in many regards. So, it seems that we can all look forward to our middle years, and applaud when we finally hit the big 60. Only good things seem to be in store for us!