A new study done by researchers at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the Ohio State University in Columbus, United States, has revealed that overvaluation of children can make them become narcissistic adults. The results of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The purpose of the study was to find and understand the origins of narcissism and it appears that after years of research, scientists might have done just that and have the first prospective study that investigates how narcissism develops in people.
For the study, the team of scientists recruited from the Netherlands 565 children and their parents. When the study begun, the children were between the ages of 7 and 11. All of the participants, both the children and the parents, were given within 6-month intervals standardized psychological research surveys in which they were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements which included My child is a great example for other children to follow.
It should be noted that the children were measured for both narcissism and self-esteem. Co-author of the study and Professor of Communication and Psychology at Ohio State, Brad Bushman, found that while people with a high self-esteem thing they are just as good as others, narcissists think they are better.
After careful examination of the survey results, Bushman and his colleagues found that children who were described by their parents are more special than the other children and deserved more in life were also the most narcissistic ones.
Bushman continued to say that children simply believe their parents when they tell them that they are more special than other children. Parents usually overvalue in order to boost the self-esteem of their offspring, but it appears that they are doing more damage than good with that type of behavior. It was also found that overvaluing was not associated with increased levels of self-esteem, but there was a correlation between parents who showed more emotional warmth and their children who had high self-esteem.
Professor Bushman is a father of three, whose parenting style was changed as a result of his study. He claims:
When I first started doing this research in the 1990s, I used to think my children should be treated like they were extra-special. I’m careful not to do that now. It is important to express warmth to your children because that may promote self-esteem, but overvaluing them may promote higher narcissism.
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