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because they went to school for 12+ years and have done numerous publications
an ego boost.
Call them what they tell you to call them. That's the best way to avoid any problems.
All my professors so far have specifically asked us to call them by their first names (maybe a liberal arts college thing?). I haven't gotten completely comfortable with that yet, but I can usually get away without calling them anything. I mean, how often are you going to be yelling, "Hey! Professor X!" across the room?
The worst part is when I'm emailing them...still can't get used to opening with "Hi, Susan..." and launching into my question.