(NY Times) Choosing Self-Esteem Over Sex or Pizza
Are young people addicted to feeling good about themselves?
Given the choice, young bright college students said they’d rather get a boost to their ego — like a compliment or a good grade on a paper — than eat a favorite food or engage in sex, a new paper suggests.
The researchers question whether the so-called “me generation” of baby boomers has spawned a nation of self-absorbed young people hooked on their own self-esteem. The inflated sense of self in students, they argue, could lead to trouble in the work world and in personal relationships.
Recent books like “The Narcissism Epidemic,” by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, have described a trend toward increasing levels of self-esteem and narcissism in young people. The idea is not without controversy, as other psychologists have questioned whether young people today are any more self-absorbed than earlier generations. Some believe that the maturation process is simply more protracted, and the delays are misinterpreted as selfishness.
The results of the new paper suggest young people have a compulsion to feel good about themselves that overwhelms and precedes other desires.
“I was shocked,” said the lead researcher, Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University. “Everybody likes compliments, but more than engaging in your favorite sexual activity? More than receiving a paycheck? I was surprised it was such a powerful thing that it trumped everything else.”