Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Core Self-Evaluation, Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy, and Depressive Symptoms: Testing Two Mediation Models

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Core Self-Evaluation, Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy, and Depressive Symptoms: Testing Two Mediation Models

Article excerpt

Depressive symptoms are one of the internalizing problems that frequently occur during adolescence. Between 20% and 44% of Chinese adolescents have reported that they had experienced depression over the past few weeks (Chen, Yang, & Li, 2009; Luo, Shen, & Zhang, 2009). Depression is a particular risk factor during the adolescent period of development because it may lead to maladjusted behavior and even suicide (Arbeau, Coplan, & Weeks, 2010). Therefore, it is important to investigate Chinese adolescent depressive symptoms.

Core self-evaluation (CSE) refers to the fundamental, bottom-line appraisals that people make of themselves, and that is implicit in all their other beliefs and evaluations (Judge, 2009). CSE is conceptualized as a higher order construct consisting of four lower order traits: self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, locus of control, and emotional stability (Judge, Locke, Durham, & Kluger, 1998). Having a positive CSE is a crucial preventive factor for depressive symptoms, and people with positive CSE are less likely to experience depression (Orth, Robins, & Meier, 2009; Steinberg, Karpinski, & Alloy, 2007).

Regulatory emotional self-efficacy (RESE) refers to the beliefs people have about whether or not they are capable of managing their emotions (Bandura, Caprara, Barbaranelli, Gerbino, & Pastorelli, 2003; Caprara et al., 2008). RESE has two components: self-efficacy in managing negative affect, which refers to individuals' ability to ameliorate negative emotional states when involved in frustrating events, and their ability to avoid being overcome by negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, and guilt; and self-efficacy in expressing positive affect, which involves individuals' ability to experience or express positive emotions, such as happiness and pride. People with weak RESE have difficulty dealing with their negative emotions when distressed, leading them to experience worse depression (Bandura et al., 2003). In a longitudinal study, Caprara, Gerbino, Paciello, Di Giunta, and Pastorelli (2010) examined the association between RESE and depressive symptoms in a group of early adolescents, and found that having strong RESE was not only negatively associated with their current levels of depression, but also that RESE predicted their depression 4 years later.

Little is known about how CSE and RESE intervene to influence the depressive symptoms of Chinese adolescents. In this study, we aimed to address this issue by proposing two models. Firstly, given that CSE is the fundamental appraisal that influences other aspects of an individual's self-evaluation (Judge et al., 1998), we considered that people with positive CSE would be more likely to develop stronger RESE, which, in turn, would decrease the frequency of subsequent depressive symptoms. Thus, we predicted that RESE would mediate the relationship between CSE and depressive symptoms (hypothesized model). Secondly, domain-specific self-evaluation may influence various outcomes by affecting general self-evaluation (Chu, 2000). Therefore, we argued that it is also possible that having strong RESE would reduce adolescents' depressive symptoms by enhancing their CSE. In other words, CSE would mediate the relationship between RESE and depressive symptoms (alternative model). In addition, because significant demographic differences (e.g., gender and school grade) have been found in adolescent depressive symptoms (Nie, Li, Dou, & Situ, 2014; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001), we also examined depressive symptoms to rule out the possibility of the influence of demographic differences. Thus, we proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: CSE and RESE will be negatively correlated with depressive symptoms.

Hypothesis 2: RESE will mediate the relationship between CSE and depressive symptoms.

Hypothesis 3: CSE will mediate the relationship between RESE and depressive symptoms.

Method

Participants and Procedure

Participants were 1,108 Chinese school students (547 boys and 561 girls aged between 11 and 17 years, Mage=14. …

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