Renske van der Cruijsen wins dissertation prize for research on self-concept in adolescents

The Dutch Association of Developmental Psychology has awarded Dr. Renske van der Cruijsen, from Erasmus SYNC Lab, the annual dissertation prize. Renske receives the award for her dissertation 'Exploring Me in a World of We' in which she examines how young people think about themselves and how their self-concept develops. During researcher PhD, Renske followed 188 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24 for a period of three years. In addition, she examined self-concept in a group of 40 boys with autism between the ages of 12 and 16. Her research shows that how adolescents see themselves is related to how they think others judge them.

Self-concept dependent on interaction with others

Renske observed the brains of young people in an MRI scanner while they answered questions about the extent to which certain characteristics apply to them. In doing so, she looked at three different domains; academic ("I am smart"), appearance ("I am attractive") and prosocial ("I help others"). The results show that how young people think about themselves corresponds to how they believe others evaluate them. Their self-concept is shaped in interaction with others. The studies also show that self-concept is somewhat less positive in mid-adolescence (around 15-17 years of age). This is especially the case for academic self-concept. Also, adolescents with more autism traits are relatively more vulnerable to developing low self-esteem and a more negative self-concept in the appearance and prosocial domain.

Dissertation provides multidimensional insight

According to the jury, the thesis is of high quality due to the use of different research methods: "The thesis of Renske van der Cruijsen excels in truly integrating various methods of analyses from brain imaging to questionnaires in an attempt to achieve a multivested insight into self-concept development in adolescence. An important asset of her thesis refers to the effort to extend analyses to emotional disturbance and psychopathology.”

Dissertation prize gives new energy

Winning the dissertation prize indicates that she is on the right track with her research: "Receiving the dissertation prize was an amazing surprise, I feel very happy and honoured! It gives me new energy to continue my research", says Renske.

Other researchers of Erasmus SYNC Lab also received two awards. Dr. Michelle Achterberg also received the award for best dissertation. Dr. Lysanne te Brinke received the third prize for her dissertation.

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