A new study suggests that people with strong self-esteem are more likely to develop deep, supportive friendships and that the connection works the other way, too.
The study was published on Sept. 26 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“For the first time, we have a systematic answer to a key question in the field of self-esteem research, whether and to what extent a person’s social relationships influence his or her self-esteem development, and vice versa,” study author Michelle Harris said in an American Psychological Association press release.
It turns out, Harris said, that self-esteem and friendships are mutually reinforcing.
That conclusion comes from a review of 52 studies that examined the impact of self-esteem and friendships among more than 47,000 men and women. The studies were conducted between 1992 and 2016, across a wide range of countries, including the United States.
Six out of 10 participants were white, and ages ranged from early childhood to seniors. For both men and women of all ages, having strong social support and acceptance translated into having strong self-esteem. What was also very interesting was that the “vice versa,” was also true — those in the study with the strongest social circles also had the greatest self-esteem.
According to Harris, “poor self-esteem seems to undermine one’s ability to develop strong social connections, and weak friendships appeared to undermine one’s sense of self-esteem.”
The cycle may have deep roots in the way kids are raised, the study authors said. Parents who instill strong self-esteem in their kids may be helping them to develop healthier friendships, later on, the researchers suggested. And, in turn, such friendships end up further boosting self-esteem.
“The reciprocal link between self-esteem and social relationships implies that the effects of a positive feedback loop accumulate over time and could be substantial as people go through life,” Harris said in the news release.
So now you have another reason to raise your kids up while raising your kids!