This study examines the development of self-esteem in a sample of 138 Australian adolescents (90 males; 48 females) with cognitive abilities in the lowest 15% (L-CA) and a matched sample of 556 Australian adolescents (312 males; 244 females) with average to high levels of cognitive abilities (A/H-CA). These participants were measured annually (Grade 7 to 12). The findings showed that adolescents with L-CA and A/H-CA experience similar high and stable self-esteem trajectories that present similar relations with key predictors (sex, school usefulness and dislike, parenting, and peer integration). Both groups revealed substantial gender differences showing higher levels of self-esteem for adolescent males remaining relatively stable over time, compared to lower levels among adolescent females which decreased until midadolescence before increasing back.

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