Pyschologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.
While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.
Despite a library’s worth of self-help books promoting the idea we can achieve anything if we believe we can, there’s very little evidence that raising self-esteem produces positive, real-world outcomes.
‘If there is any effect at all, it is quite small,’ said Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, who authored a 2003 paper on self-esteem studies.
Studies suggest weaker students actually perform worse if given encouragement at boosting their self-esteem.
‘An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,’ Baumeister found.