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Low self-esteem (LSE) has been associated with several psychiatric disorders, and is presumably influenced by transdiagnostic factors. Our study was based both on investigations of the relationship between depression and LSE (vulnerability, scar, reciprocal models) and on theories of cognitive factors contributing to the development and maintenance of LSE, such as Melanie Fennell's model, the catalyst model and the Self-Regulatory Executive Function model. Based on the theories above, in our cross-sectional study we aimed at understanding more specifically the transdiagnostic factors that can maintain LSE in a heterogeneous clinical sample. Six hundred and eleven out-patients were assessed by SCID-I and self-report questionnaires. The model was tested by structural equation modelling. Based on the fit indices, the hypothesis model did not fit the data; therefore, a modified transdiagnostic model was emerged. This model made a good fit to the data [χ2 (12, n=611)=76.471, p<.001; RMSEA=.080, CFI=.950, TLI=.913] with a strong explanatory power (adj R2=.636). Severe stressful life events and depressive symptoms lead to LSE indirectly. Self-blame, perfectionism, seeking love and hopelessness have been identified as mediating factors in the relationship between depressive symptoms and LSE. Although there was a significant correlation between state-anxiety and LSE, as well as LSE and rumination, these two factors did not fit into the model. The new transdiagnostic model of LSE has great potential in the treatment of various mental conditions and may serve as a guide to developing more focused and more effective therapeutic interventions.


Szilvia Kresznerits, Sándor Rózsa, Dóra Perczel-Forintos. A transdiagnostic model of low self-esteem: pathway analysis in a heterogeneous clinical sample. Behavioural and cognitive psychotherapy. 2022 Mar;50(2):171-186

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PMID: 34852861

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