AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

You aren’t always that good

Credit: newwavegurly flickr

Have you ever been to an athletic event where everyone gets a trophy no matter how well they do?  This is done so kids will not feel like they are not as good as their peers.  It teaches kids that it doesn’t matter if you come in first or last as long as you try your hardest you will be rewarded.  This may not sound like a big deal but a recent study  has found that this undeserved positive reinforcement can actually lead to depression.

Young-Hoon Kim and Chi-Yue Chiu, two scientists from Singapore, conducted a research project that involved over 3,000 students from ages 12 to 22.  The students were placed into four groups.  In the first two experiments, two of the groups were given age appropriate academic tests and were asked to rate how well they thought they did compared to other participants their age.  The participants were then given a questionnaire that is used to measure depression .

In the third and fourth experiments, the two remaining groups were also given age appropriate academic tests but this time the students were not asked to rate their performance.  Instead, the students were given false information about their scores.  The students who had very high results were given negative feedback and the students who did badly were given positive feedback.  A control group was formed and when they received their scores they did not get any feedback.  After receiving their scores, these students were given the same questionnaire as the first two groups of students.

The results show that students who rated their performance higher then it actually was were much more likely to feel depressed then those students who more accurately rated their performance.  This proves that falsely telling yourself that you are good at something does not benefit you. By telling yourself you are good at something that your not good at, you are actually making it harder for yourself to succeed.

We are taught from a young age that we will be rewarded for putting in a good effort and trying our hardest.  This is not always the case and can lead to us believing that we do not have to try hard to get what we want and our performance level may decline which could cause depression and low self-esteem.  

Remember to be honest with yourself and those around you because even though you may think you are doing a good thing by telling others that they are good you could be setting them down a road to depression.  Honestly truly is the best policy.

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1 Comment

  1. ayl103

    Wow, that is a really interesting experiment. I never thought kids would have lower self esteem because they got an award for trying. Early childhood depression can lead to behavior changes in the future. The emotional stress of depression on children can change them. Scientist believe that the prefrontal cortex and the dorsal raphe nucleus may cause depression because when stimulated in rats they release antidepressant effects. But its still just a theory. Here take a look at this website:

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