American Narcissist: Raising With Praising Makes Jack a Proud Boy

If Barack Obama is the narcissist some claim he is, he just may be, to paraphrase French philosopher Joseph de Maistre, the president we deserve. Because according to a new university study, Westerners are raising generations of narcissists — and it’s the result of modern parents’ habit of lavishing continual, often underserved praise upon their children. Writes

Parents who overvalue their kids aren’t doing them any favours, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Amsterdam sought to determine the origins of narcissism and found children scored higher on narcissism tests later on if their parents described them in surveys as “more special than other children” or deserving of “something extra in life.”

“Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others. That may not be good for them or for society,” co-author Brad Bushman said in a press release.

Elaborating, Forbes’ Alice Walton writes that the research vindicates the “social learning theory,” which “suggests that kids become narcissists when their parents overvalue them — that is, when parents treat their kids as fundamentally more deserving than others, or as Freud put it, when they ‘are under a compulsion to ascribe every perfection to the child — which sober observation would find no occasion to do.’”