Monday, January 10, 2011

Self-Esteem: Better than Sex?

The Wall Street Journal reported on a new study by Brad J. Bushman, Scott J. Moeller, and Jennifer Crocker. Their work will soon be published in the Journal of Personality. According to the WSJ, these scholars asked 130 college students to consider experiences that boosted their self-esteem. For instance, they might receive praise from a professor, boosting their self-esteem. They also asked subjects to rate other pleasurable experiences such as sex, eating, etc. Here is the newspaper's summary of the key conclusions from the study:

"Overall, the students valued the self-esteem increase more than good food or sex. The ratio of "wanting" to "liking" was used to gauge the addictive qualities of each pleasure: Addicts can want a fix more than they like it. While students said that they liked all of these things more than they wanted them, the gap was narrowest in the case of self-esteem—which hints at the intoxicating effects of ego, the authors said."

Wow! We always about how this generation of young people have grown up constantly being showered with praise, with many teachers and parents thinking that self-esteem boosts were ultra-critical to their development. I just didn't know quite how critical these compliments and pats on the back were to my college students. Better than sex, really?

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