Saturday, January 5, 2013

Self esteem or self respect?

Low self-esteem is always a problem, but healthy self-esteem cannot be artificially created and the efforts to do so haven't done anyone good and have done harm. Glenn Reynolds comments that "As an alternative to self-esteem, I would suggest self-respect, which comes from actual achievement and self-knowledge" in reference to this article from the BBC:
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. ....

...[W]hile the Freshman Survey shows that students are increasingly likely to label themselves as gifted in writing ability, objective test scores indicate that actual writing ability has gone down since the 1960s. ....

Another study by Twenge suggested there has been a 30% tilt towards narcissistic attitudes in US students since 1979.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines narcissism as: "Excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, self-centredness."

"Our culture used to encourage modesty and humility and not bragging about yourself," says Twenge. "It was considered a bad thing to be seen as conceited or full of yourself." ....

"What's really become prevalent over the last two decades is the idea that being highly self-confident - loving yourself, believing in yourself - is the key to success.

"Now the interesting thing about that belief is it's widely held, it's very deeply held, and it's also untrue."

This bewitching idea - that people's lives will improve with their self-esteem - led to what came to be known as The Self-Esteem Movement. ....

Yet there is very little evidence that raising self-esteem leads to tangible, positive outcomes.

"If there is any effect at all, it is quite small," says Roy Baumeister of Florida State University. He was the lead author of a 2003 paper that scrutinised dozens of self-esteem studies. ....

"Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success. Despite my years invested in research on self-esteem, I reluctantly advise people to forget about it." .... [more]
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