More and more American university students think they are something special – but could high self-esteem actually be bad for your life chances?
Research suggests that more and more American university students think they are something special. High self-esteem is generally regarded as a good thing – but could too much of it actually make you less successful?
About nine million young people have filled out the American Freshman Survey, since it began in 1966.
It asks students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas – and over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being “above average” for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.
This was revealed in a new analysis of the survey data, by US psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues.
- The Self-Esteem Movement is said to have its roots in the civil rights movement, which promoted group solidarity – but also the rights of individuals to be who they want
- A series of seminars were held in the 1960s on achieving happiness and fulfilment by tapping inner potential – it was called The Human Potential Movement
- First popular book on self-esteem published in 1969 – The Psychology of Self-Esteem by psychologist Nathaniel Branden
- Werner Erhard (above) held sessions aimed at boosting self-esteem in US prisons in the 1970s – there were similar programmes in the 1980s to try to reduce teen pregnancy rates and crime
- Interest is still high – there were more than 40,000 articles about self-esteem in newspapers and magazines between 2002 and 2007