Doing for the Greater Good: What Price, in Academe?

Suniya Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In discussing how merit is commonly judged in academia, my focus in this article is not on dimensions that are currently considered but on those that warrant more attention. Grounded in suggestions offered by Sternberg, I argue here for increased recognition of faculty’s commitment to intrinsic values—focused on community and relationships—and not just extrinsic ones that connote personal fame or status. I first summarize evidence of disillusionment among today’s promising young scholars and then provide exemplars of role models who have, in fact, maintained high standards in both intrinsic and extrinsic domains. I illustrate how commitment to intrinsic goals in everyday professional responsibilities (such as peer reviews or teaching) can come at the cost to personal success and suggest ways of providing appropriate recognition in faculty evaluations. At the macro level, I describe how positive work communities can enhance productivity, foster resilience, and mitigate burnout in the competitive world of contemporary academe. Finally, I underscore the critical role of psychologists in spurring greater dialogue about the messages conveyed by higher education, to the next generation, about what truly matters in making “a life well lived”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1158
Number of pages6
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • altruism
  • anxiety
  • compassion
  • culture
  • education
  • ethics
  • generosity
  • integrity
  • intrinsic goals
  • positive psychology
  • resilience
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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