The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem

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Stuart Smalley’s famous words of self love: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me" could be hazardous to your mental health. A new study out of the University of Waterloo suggests that people with low-self esteem actually sink into a darker state of mind when they articulate self-affirmations. This is just the latest from a new batch of self-esteem studies. Joining us for a look at how the self-esteem movement has morphed since it burst onto the scene nearly 30 years ago is Takeaway science contributor Jonah Lehrer. Jonah is author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist.

"American kids feel better about themselves than kids all across the world, but achievement hasn't gone up. So now we have this nagging disconnect where our kids feel great about themselves— they think they're doing great in math and reading, but they're actually not."
—Science contributor Jonah Lehrer on the negative side effects of positive affirmations