I hope that PAW received a product-placement fee from Professor Amy Cuddy and a share of future consulting revenues from the blatantly self-promotional cover story. There should have been a disclaimer at the top of each page, saying “Paid Advertisement.” I support coverage of non-traditional topics like body-language research, but the decision by PAW to give a Harvard professor such prominence, together with the content of the article, is inappropriate and offensive for two main reasons:
1. Aren’t there enough Princeton professors whose research qualifies them for cover-story material? This article should be a few paragraphs at most, not five full pages. PAW should give priority toward articles that keep alumni informed about the University.
2. I emphasize to my children, players that I coach, and employees that you achieve success through “hard work and perseverance.” Professor Cuddy says, “Don’t fake it ’til you make it. Fake it ’til you become it.” This may be different sides of the same coin, but they have a very different and profound impact on the listener. People hear “hard work” when I speak, while they remember “fake it” from hers. In an era of reality television, this sounds better but seems at odds with the culture (integrity, character, honor code) that alumni want at Princeton. PAW’s decision to give her cover-page exposure is unfortunately a de facto endorsement of this philosophy. Remember that dozens of Harvard students recently were required to temporarily withdraw for cheating or “faking it.”
PAW, like any other print publication, is struggling in today’s digital world. But publishing an article better suited for People, if not the National Enquirer, is not the answer.