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For College Students, Praise May Trump Sex and Money
Date:1/11/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- After a lifetime of being told that they're "winners" who are "special," today's young people crave these boosts to their self-esteem more than sex, drinking, money or food, new research suggests.

The self-esteem movement of recent decades may have backfired by creating individuals who expect success and praise in a world that won't necessarily cooperate long-term, said study co-author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

Bushman and his colleagues conducted two experiments on 282 college students, asking them to rate how much they wanted and liked various pleasurable activities such as receiving a paycheck, seeing a best friend, eating a favorite food or engaging in a sexual activity.

The list of items to choose from included receiving a compliment or getting a good grade.

The students valued boosts to their self-esteem such as receiving good grades or compliments more than any of the other experiences.

"We were shocked because we tried to think of everything college students love," Bushman said. "We were really surprised college students would rather be praised. I don't think it should trump those and I don't think it's such a basic need. Social stimulation is important . . . but I think that's very different from the need to be praised."

In a laboratory setting, students took a test that supposedly measured their intellectual ability and were told afterward that if they waited another 10 minutes they could have their test re-scored using a new scoring algorithm that usually produces higher results.

The study, reported online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Personality, said those who highly valued self-esteem were more likely to take the time to wait for the new scores.

Participants, who also completed a Narcissis
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