Young people crave self-esteem above sex: study

Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:13pm EST
 
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By Bernd Debusmann Jr

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Young people crave boosts to their self-esteem more than sex and money, according to a new study.

Researchers from Ohio State University and Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York found that college students rated receiving compliments, or doing well on a test, above such pleasurable activities such as sex, receiving a paycheck, seeing a friend, or eating their favorite food.

Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, said the findings should raise red flags about the role of self-esteem in society.

"It wouldn't be correct to say that the study participants were addicted to self-esteem," said Bushman, who headed the research team. "But they were closer to being addicted to self-esteem than they were to being addicted to any other activity we studied."

He said he and his team were shocked by the findings.

"We purposely chose things that we thought college students love. Most of the participants were around 19. College students love drinking, they love sex. They are poor; they love money and getting a paycheck."

But experiences that boosted self-esteem trumped all other rewards, according to the study.

Bushman said the findings, which are published online by the Journal of Personality, suggest that many young people may be a little too focused on pumping up their self-esteem.   Continued...

 
<p>Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo</p>