Sex Differences in Self-Concept and Symptoms of Depression During the Transition to College

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Abstract

In an investigation of sex differences in adaptation to college, real and ideal self-concept and symptoms of depression were studied longitudinally in a sample of 287 students. Survey data were collected at a summer orientation and one semester into freshman year. No sex differences in self-concept were found before college, but males' real self-concept became more positive over the transition. Females were more depressed than males at both times, although depressive symptom scores increased in both sexes. Real self-concept scores were negatively correlated with depressive symptoms in both sexes at both times, while the discrepancy between real and ideal self-concepts was positively correlated with depressive symptoms among females before college and in both sexes midway through freshman year. A one-year follow-up revealed that females' real self-concept scores increased to match those of males by mid-sophomore year. These sex differences are discussed in relation to psychological development during adolescence.

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