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What Do College Students Really Want?

Study Shows Self-Esteem Trumps Other Feel-Good Activities

January 11, 2011

What Do College Students Really Want?

by Alexis Mattera

With spring semester almost upon us (or already in session at some colleges), what are students looking to get out of the next four months on campus? Sure, Verizon iPhones, BCS Championship trophies and not having Facebook close down are excellent guesses but in reality, all students want is to feel good about themselves via regular self-esteem boosts. The real question then becomes if is this a good thing or a bad thing?

According to a new study by Ohio State University to be published in the Journal of Personality later this month, 130 University of Michigan students were asked to rate how much they wanted to partake in an enjoyable activity, like seeing friends, getting paid, having sex, eating a favorite food, drinking alcohol or receiving a self-esteem boost on a scale of 1 to 5 and how much they liked each of these things using the same scale. The findings overwhelmingly showed that these students cared more about increasing self-esteem.

Results did differ between male and female respondents – males ranked self-esteem above all else while females rated money and friendships as equally attractive as self-confidence – but the gap between liking self-esteem and wanting self-esteem was the slimmest out of all topics rated by both sexes, resembling an addictive mentality. Though not a full-fledged addiction for college students, the data show self-esteem comes dangerously close to being one. Levels of entitlement are also stronger with those who weigh wanting above liking - a trend the study’s authors Brad Bushman, Scott Moeller and Jennifer Crocker believe is not for the best.

Let’s put it to our own vote: Is it a confidence boost you want or does it take something else (our scholarship search, maybe?) to make you feel all warm and fuzzy?


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