A recent study shows that college students would rather receive “a boost to their ego–like a compliment or a good grade on a paper–than eat a favorite food or engage in sex.”
Here is a taste of a New York Times article on the subject:
Recent books like “The Narcissism Epidemic,” by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, have described a trend toward increasing levels of self-esteem and narcissism in young people. The idea is not without controversy, as other psychologists have questioned whether young people today are any more self-absorbed than earlier generations. Some believe that the maturation process is simply more protracted, and the delays are misinterpreted as selfishness.
The results of the new paper suggest young people have a compulsion to feel good about themselves that overwhelms and precedes other desires.