The Surprising Age When Your Self-Esteem Is Highest
According to a new study, your self-esteem peaks during a particular decade of your life.
Everything gets better with age. And that includes your self-esteem.
According to a recent paper published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, we still have a lot to look forward to in our golden years because our self-esteem—which the authors define as a person’s subjective evaluation of his or her worth as a person—appears to peak in our 60s.
“Midlife is, for many adults, a time of highly stable life circumstances in domains such as relationships and work. Moreover, during middle adulthood, most individuals further invest in the social roles they hold, which might promote their self-esteem,” Ulrich Orth, the study’s co-author and a professor of psychology at the University of Bern in Switzerland, told TIME. “For example, people take on managerial roles at work, maintain a satisfying relationship with their spouse or partner, and help their children to become responsible and independent adults.”
To come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed nearly 200 research articles about self-esteem published over the last few decades. This gave them access to psychological data about how our self-esteem evolves over time from almost 165,000 people.
According to the review, your self-esteem begins to rise as a child, between the ages of 4 to 11 years old. From there, it doesn’t rise or decline for some time. Even throughout those awkward years (also known as puberty), self-esteem remains steady.
As Orth and the team found, self-esteem then rises again from the ages of 15 to 30 and holds steady before peaking between ages 60 and 70.
The only time a human’s self-esteem appears to decline is around age 70. That decline, Orth explained, becomes more pronounced at age 90.
“Old age frequently involves loss of social roles as a result of retirement, the empty nest, and, possibly, widowhood, all of which are factors that may threaten self-esteem,” Orth noted to TIME. “In addition, aging often leads to negative changes in other possible sources of self-esteem, such as socioeconomic status, cognitive abilities and health.”
But, that shouldn’t stop anyone from feeling great about themselves well into their elder years. All you have to do is keep a positive mindset.
“Many people,” Orth noted, “are able to maintain a relatively high level of self-esteem even during old age.”