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Study: ‘Generation Y’ Has Too Much Self Esteem

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News
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A woman kisses a gold medal. (credit: AP)

A woman kisses a gold medal. (credit: AP)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – They’re young, confident, and entitled; at least that’s what a new study suggests those in “Generation Y” seem to think.

Researchers blame a society obsessed with boosting self-esteem, for the damagingly high expectations of today’s young people.

Look no further than Eclipse & Co. Trophies and Rewards in West Fort Worth to find the proof. “If you name it someone has given a trophy for it,” explained owner Tanya Wilson. “Just to make it a little more special.”

The trophy used to symbolize a great achievement or honor reserved only for the best, but today it is a common reward for anything and sometimes nothing.

According to Wilson there are trophies for, “First day of kindergarten, first day of boy scouts, [and] first tooth that they’ve lost. People come in just to get stuff for their son’s first home-run,” she said.

In fact, trophies are a thriving industry. “People want something like this,” Wilson said pointing to a large gold statue. “They want a trophy; they want a statue or something that they can put out there that shows everybody that they won something; they did something important.”

But could the ‘everyone wins’ mentality have a damaging effect? A recent study finds today’s young people have unrealistically high expectations, and crave rewards.

Researchers at Ohio State University asked 252 college students to rate various pleasurable activities. They found most crave praise compliments, rewards and other self-esteem boosters more than money, sex, drinking, or food.

“I think it would be at the top, not number one, but definitely at the top,” said TCU student Joanna Heep. Fellow student Jordan Wheat agreed. “Those little things to me mean a lot especially coming from the right people,” he said.

But psychologists say too much of a good thing can be bad. According to experts, unwarranted praise can lead to a sense of entitlement long after little league.

“It pays to be realistic. It doesn’t pay to have high expectations,” said TCU Psychology Professor Mauricio Papini. “Students come to me with this argument, for example, a student with a C or a D or an F, ‘but I made the effort, why don’t I get a better grade?’”

Some employers say that same attitude is carrying over to the workplace and has led them to make changes. “Pretty much every business gives some kind of recognition and they usually chose to give something like this [plaque],” Wilson said.

Click here to read the HealthDay article on college students and praise. Click here to read the entire published study by the Journal of Personality.

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