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March 10, 2015

Duh: Too Much Parental Praise for Kids Can Turn Them Into Special Snowflake Narcissists, Common Sense Says, Because Obviously

But now there's a "study" to tell you what you would have guessed.

We really need to reduce government funding of social sciences. I'm tired of finding out that my tax dollars went to a "study" testing the obvious.

People will say "But then who will fund these important 'studies'?" To which I respond: the people most interested in publishing these stupid "studies" -- Cosmopolitan, other women's magazines, and the various "Science" sections of newsweeklies and newspapers that prefer their Science Reportage to not contain any actual Science.

You know, the kind of "Science" than Neil DeGrasse Tyson lovers love linking on FaceBook. Stuff about human behavior and Aren't We a Funny Species?

Non-science, I mean.

For what appears to be the first time, researchers have taken a stab at [how narcissists become such] by following and surveying 565 children ages 7 through 11 and their parents -- 415 mothers and 290 fathers.

The results are quite clear: Parents who "overvalue" children during this developmental stage, telling them they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, are more likely to produce narcissistic children -- who can grow up to become narcissistic adults, unless something is done about it.

I don't understand how they scientifically determined what overvalued means, nor how that would not be question-begging (that is, if you've already determined some parents overvalue their kids, don't you already have the answer to your study embedded in your premise?).


"When children are seen by their parents as being more special and more entitled than other children, they may internalize the view that they are superior individuals, a view that is at the core of narcissism," the researchers wrote in a study released online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But when children are treated by their parents with affection and appreciation, they may internalize the view that they are valuable individuals, a view that is at the core of self-esteem."

This seems to make sense intuitively, but as the authors -- Brad Bushman of Ohio State University and Eddie Brummelman, a post-doctoral researcher at Holland's University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University -- point out, this was not the prevailing explanation all along. Psychoanalytic theory suggested that narcissists were the result of parents who showed them too little warmth.

So Bushman and Brummelman pitted social learning theory -- the idea that you learn through modeled behavior -- against the psychoanalytic argument and found that, indeed, children learn their narcissism from parents who teach them that they are more than special.

The authors also wanted to determine what differentiated narcissists -- who tend to be more aggressive and even violent than other people, and are at higher risk for depression, anxiety and drug addiction -- from people with strong self-esteem. As mentioned above, parents who show their kids warmth and appreciation without promoting the idea that they are superior tend to raise children with solid self-esteem.


BTW, science reporting is dreadful.* This Washington Post only contains conclusions -- it does not tell you what questions were posed in this survey (almost all social science is surveys, you know) nor how they measured "narcissism."

This story barely has any science in it as it is -- it's basically just an excuse for parents to look down on others' parenting -- but apparently "barely any science" is "too much science" for the Washington Post's readers (who I'm sure will tell you that they "love science").

So let's check another article (man, do newspapers, blogs, and magazines love these silly-shit "not really science" Science articles) at Forbes and and see if any Science Writers will report on any actual (sorta) science.

Okay, she does. So what are these scientists, and I use that term advisedly, actually measuring?

"Research shows that narcissism is higher in Western than non-Western countries, and suggests that narcissism levels have been steadily increasing among Western youth over the past few decades," the authors write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

No argument there, which is why you're getting all these links. People love "Science" that challenges them to learn what they already knew.

The team examined the roots of narcissism, by pitting two competing theories of narcissism against each other....

I guess they mean the "deny warmth" theory vs. the "instill ego" version.

Some of the questions probed narcissism in the children: For example, the kids had to rate how much they agreed with statements like, "Kids like me deserve something extra." Some statements probed self-esteem: "Kids like me are happy with themselves as a person." Parents also had to rate statements about the "value" of their kids: "My child is a great example for other children to follow," for instance. Finally, both parents and kids answered questions about how much warmth parents showed their kids: "I let my child know I love him/her" (or, for kids, "My father/mother lets me know he/she loves me").

Which kids were more likely to be narcissistic as time went by? Parental overvaluation was the largest predictor of a child’s narcissism over time, but interestingly, it did not predict self-esteem. In other words, telling kids how exceptional they are doesn’t produce kids with good healthy self-esteem – it just makes them more narcissistic.

Well that's marginally interesting, at least to me, because I've noticed that the most extreme narcissists actually have a gaping wound in their ego -- they're not centered people who believe in themselves; they're raging nutters who want to belive in themselves, but have Enormous Flaws which they are mostly aware of but drive out of their minds (because thinking about them hurts).

So, there's the big Science story of the day: Freud was wrong, again.

* The kind of "Science" The press loves is what I call Chris Knight Science, a reference to the hero from Real Genius, who Summed Up his brilliant insight about increasing the power of a laser a hundredfold by saying, It's like lazing a stick of dynamite.

Science Reporters do not understand science, and cannot explain what a scientific breakthrough really means, and Scientists know this, so they feed Science Reporters non-science Similies like It's like lazing a stick of dynamite, because Good Copy is really the Heart of True Science.

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posted by Ace at 07:14 PM

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