Monday, November 15, 2010

Is The One's towering self-regard a sign of a broader ailment?

Inflated self-esteem can be decidedly counterproductive.

American students, for example, took first place in self-judged mathematical ability in a comparative study of eight countries, but last place in actual mathematical competency.

Korean students, in contrast, ranked themselves last in self-judged mathematical skills and took first place in actual mathematical performance.

The idea that self-esteem produces better performance, reversing the direction of better performance boosting self-esteem, is clearly a concept that's been oversold. But we feel good -- whether it's self-evaluations of leadership skills, looks, personality or math ability, it's not unusual for 25 percent of American students to self-judge themselves to be in the top 1 percent.

The downside can be a declining nation that's overstocked with egotistical and incompetent narcissists.

That might be the problem at the White House.

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