The self and mental health: Self-salience and the emergence of internalizing and externalizing problems

Sarah Rosenfield, Mary Clare Lennon, Helene Raskin White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

How do schemas about self-salience-the importance of the self versus the collective in social relations-affect mental health? We propose that self-salience shapes the likelihood of experiencing internalizing or externalizing problems. Schemas that privilege others over the self increase the risk of internalizing symptoms, including depressive symptoms and anxiety, whereas those that privilege the self over others predispose individuals to externalizing behaviors of antisocial behavior and substance abuse. Furthermore, we propose that these schemas contribute to the gender differences that exist in these problems. We test these predictions with data from adolescents, the stage at which these problems and the gender differences in them arise. Results show that self-salience underlies both internalizing and externalizing problems. In addition, schemas about self-salience help explain the gender differences found in mental health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-340
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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