How Self-Esteem Affects Students

It should come as no surprise that people, and college students in particular, appreciate the occasional self-esteem boost. However, researchers have unveiled a new study that found that college students got more joy and happiness out of being praised than they did from having sex, making money, and drinking. The study, published in USA Today, revealed that college students cannot compare the satisfaction they get from things they enjoy – such as money, booze, and sexual relations – to those joys that they get when their egos or self-esteems have been stroked.

The study, which came from questionnaires that included the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, was conducted by researchers at Ohio State University and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Conducted as two separate studies, the 282 students studied had their desires measured for praise, compared to those brought by engaging in sex, eating their favorite foods, seeing friends, and other common actions that bring people joy. The study showed that those college students preferred to be praised by receiving good grades, told they did well, or receiving any type of compliment from someone. According to lead author, Brad Bushman, a professor at Ohio State University, self-esteem levels have been rising since a standard was developed and is valued more highly nowadays.

The study, which is published online in the Journal of Personality, analyzed different types of the information given to see the difference between the likes and wants of the participants in the study. Part of the study showed that the participants liked rewards more than they actually wanted them, with the likes and wants distinction smaller for self-esteem, which suggests that they wanted self-esteem more than the other rewards listed. For another part of the study, participants took a test that they were told was to measure their intellectual ability. After the tests, they were told they could do it over again, if they waited 10 minutes, and be scored with a method that would likely produce better results. With this, researchers found that the students that valued themselves were likely to stay in an effort to higher their scores.

The findings don’t particularly shock Bill Corsaro, a sociologist at Indiana University-Bloomington, who believes that kids are being raised with high expectations, he told USA Today. Corsaro, who has taught for 35 years, also says that kids are now being taught at earlier ages to be hard workers and to want to do well and exceed expectations. Robert Reasoner, who was involved with the research and the founder of the National Association for Self-Esteem, believes that self-esteem is a basic need for humans, and that everyone wants to have positive feelings about themselves. However, Bushman has raised some concern- while he feels self-esteem is definitely important to individuals, it may become harmful when it is excessive because it can lead to narcissism.

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