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Not just the best years of my life: personal growth in higher education

By Michael K. Coolsen, Madoka Kumashiro and Keith A. Quesenberry


Our conception of product affirmation depicts a product as “sculptor” of the consumer’s ideal self, similar to how a relationship partner can help us achieve our aspirations and goals. We performed two studies to look at the role of higher education as a product in affirming a consumer’s ideal self. We found that product affirmation for undergraduate students and alumni (with the university as the product that affirms the ideal self of the student/alumnus) leads to increases in the experience of various positive emotions, the acquisition of various positive traits, and positive evaluations of the university. Additionally, we found that product affirmation effects were more pronounced and robust in one’s personal ideal-self domain than in one’s professional ideal-self domain. Practical implications, study limitations, and future directions are discussed, as well as preliminary findings from a follow-up experiment using a sample of graduate students

Publisher: International Academy of Business Disciplines and Frostburg State University
Year: 2010
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