Between 1976 and 2000 the gap between the number of high school seniors (Year 13) students who expected to get a degree and those who actually did so more than doubled. This gap between youngsters' expectations and their actual achievements has been labelled 'ambition inflation' but is the disappointment it can bring bad for people's mental health? Professor John R. Reynolds from Florida State University - who did the original research into ambition inflation - studied 4,300 people. He assessed whether they had met their educational expectations and compared this with their levels of depression. They found that there was little difference between those who had, and had not, met their expectations. Lower educational achievement was associated with an increased risk of depression but there was no difference between those who aimed high and were disappointed and those with low expectations.
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