Big egos don’t produce success, study finds

By AAP with AG staff 21 May 2013
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Those who feel they deserve success are more likely to fail when challenges arise.

PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY deserve success are among those most likely to fail when challenges arise, research from New Zealand has revealed.

The study focused on university students and found that those who felt entitled to good grades were more likely to bomb out on a tough exam.

“People who believe that they don’t need to work for good grades – that they are just entitled to them by right – are annoying, but there wasn’t any evidence before now that it’s actually a self-destructive strategy,” says study co-author Professor Jamin Halberstadt, at the University of Ontago in New Zealand.

Entitlement not linked to success

The researchers tracked the progress of 300 university students, measuring their performance in an exam that was intentionally more difficult than students were expecting. Those with an excessive belief in their entitlement to success were revealed to perform more poorly than other students.

Lead researcher and psychologist Dr Donna Anderson, says the findings suggest that the students who perform best in their studies are those that accept personal responsibility over their performance. 

Jamin says that many psychologists share a belief that ‘Generation Y’ may have an inflated sense of what they deserve. “There’s also been a lot of interest in this study, so I wonder if the idea has touched a cultural belief or a common intuition that people have.” he told Australian Geographic.

The research is published in the International Journal of Higher Education.

Those who feel they deserve success less likely to work for it

The study also supports the notion that people who feel excessively entitled believe that others are responsible for their success or failure, and are less motivated to put in extra effort when required.

“When an entitled person encounters obstacles to achieving an outcome, they feel like they shouldn’t have to work for it,” Jamin says. “In fact, you should see a challenge as evidence that you need to work harder.”

The take-home message of this study is to treat unexpected challenges as motivators, rather than as obstacles to an outcome you deserve, he adds.