People might associate college life with pizza and promiscuity, but according to a paper published in the Journal of Personality, students would rather receive an ego boost (from compliments or good grades) than have sex. Incidentally, ego boosts also trump favorite foods, which actually makes sense considering how closely hunger and sexual compulsions are linked. 7 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence
The fact that young people value self worth over a need as basic as sex reinforces the idea that we (or, young folks, at least) are quite narcissistic. At the same time, at least one researcher acknowledges that the relationship between sex and self-worth might reflect the old chicken and egg question. Do people experience successful relationships because they have good self-esteem, or does good self-esteem come from having healthy relationships? Dr. Jean M. Twenge, co-author of "The Narcissism Epidemic," says that self-esteem comes after academic and social success, but college students apparently think otherwise. Dating: Confidence vs. Cockiness
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Researchers at the University of Michigan, where the study was conducted, gathered their data by asking subjects to think of their favorite food, favorite sexual activity, and favorite ego-boosting experience. Participants were then asked to rate how much they "wanted" that thing, and then how much they "liked" it. Researchers found that students generally "liked" self esteem-boosters as much as they "wanted" them, which amplifies their power as a motivator. 9 Compliments Men Crave
The results surprised several experts in psychology, such as researcher Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. "Everybody likes compliments, but more than engaging in your favorite sexual activity?" he asked. "More than receiving a paycheck? I was surprised it was such a powerful thing that it trumped everything else."
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We agree, but when you think about self-esteem versus sex in terms of our values, and what we want out of life, it makes sense that people would prioritize praise. A compliment affirms that you're making a difference, you're doing something important, that you're being challenged and that you're growing. Especially for college students, having sex might be as easy as heading to a frat party or simply snuggling next to one's significant other. Feeling accomplished, however, takes more work, and the high of an ego boost often lasts longer than the euphoria of a really good sexual encounter.
Would you rather experience a great sexual encounter or receive an ego boost?