January 26, 2005

· Sociology

Kevin Drum relays the bad news that high self-esteem is basically good for nothing in terms of tangible outcomes. These findings sound much like the literature on optimism and pessimism, which finds that optimists overvalue their abilities and blame others for their mistakes. People with sunny dispositions are a real menace to society. A solid Irish Catholic upbringing (or functional equivalent) is guaranteed to inoculate you against these problems for good. Where I grew up, people thought “self-esteem” was the Italian for “sauna”.[1]

fn1. I wish I could claim authorship of this joke. But I’d feel very guilty if I did.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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