Starting in the sixties, teachers and parents began to believe that building self-esteem in children was the best way to develop confident happy adults. But psychology researcher Jean Twenge says that the truth is not so simple. In her latest book, The Narcissism Epidemic, she unveils some startling evidence that this cultural trend towards individual empowerment may have created a generation of young people too self-infatuated for their own good:
There was a survey done last year asking college students about their academic experiences. To the question “If you explain to your professor that you’re trying hard, should he or she increase your grade?” two-thirds of college students said yes. I’m a professor and I study narcissism, and I was still shocked by that number! The “everybody gets a trophy” mentality basically says that you’re going to get rewarded just for showing up. First of all, that’s not how the real world works. Second, that won’t build true self-esteem; instead, it builds this empty sense of “I’m just fantastic, not because I did anything but just because I’m here.”
Read an in-depth interview with Jean Twenge in the new issue of EnlightenNext magazine available next week at a newsstand near you! You can also download a recording of the audio at our download store. Click the link below to listen to a sample clip.