August 3rd, 2013| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Nine million college freshmen have taken the American Freshman Survey over the last five decades. And yes, there is a clearly visible trend. An upward trend. An escalating trend.

Of self-infatuation!

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State, and author of several fascinating works—one of them, The Narcissism Epidemic (2009), is reviewed here—found that there has been a dramatic rise in the number of American freshmen who think they are “above average” in academic ability, capacity to achieve, and, of course, self-confidence. Twenge, BTW, is also author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2007). The title says it all!

You don’t need to be a statistician to know that that when 80% of any group of folks, let alone freshmen, think they are “above average,” there is something wrong with that self-assessment!

There is a disconnect between reality and fantasy! Objective test scores reveal that actual abilities of students today, say for instance in writing, are far less than those of their peers in 1960.

(Now, the current crop does confess that they spend less time studying than did their counterparts decades ago. But, of course, the recent freshmen are “gifted” and “above average”—all of them!—so they don’t need to be working as hard as their disadvantaged, deficient, and dense comrades who lived in the dark days.)

Twenge suspects that these young egotists—narcissists!—grow up to become depressed adults with all the “ambition inflation” baggage they carry. “There’s going to be a lot more people who don’t reach their goals,” she said. The collision between fantasy and reality can be quite catastrophic.

In The Narcissism Epidemic, Twenge attributed the current affliction to parenting styles (everyone’s child is just GREAT!), celebrity culture (everyone is, or wants to be, famous), social media (everyone is, or thinks they are, famous), and easy credit (everyone, being GREAT and famous, deserves more). Loving yourself seems to be the key to success. Twenge: “Now the interesting thing about that belief is it’s widely held, it’s very deeply held, and it’s also untrue.”

Of course, the Bible has been saying that for a long time.

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us;
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16

All that stuff about self-esteem, apparently, isn’t producing the desired effect on real-world outcomes, as far as success is concerned. Indeed, all this self-affirmation, self-esteem, self-inflation, is actually detrimental to performance, for it removes the incentive to hard work. “In the long-term, what tends to happen is that narcissistic people mess up their relationships, at home and at work,” Twenge confirmed.

Another psychology researcher on the topic, Roy Baumeister, acknowledges: “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.”

Yup, the Bible has been advocating that as well.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control ….
Galatians 5:22–23

The Bible warns us …

… not to think more highly of oneself than one ought to think;
but to think so as to have sound judgment ….
Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Romans 12:3, 16

After all what we are and what we have are all God-given!

What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
1 Corinthians 4:7



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