Monday, March 05, 2007

Undergrads and Narcissism

Are undergrads more narcissistic now than 20 years ago?

A new book out, Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before, laments the author (Jean M. Twenge, Phd.)'s findings that undergraduates today are more narcissistic than the previous generation. At least based on her results on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Jean Twenge attributes this to the "self-esteem" movement that encouraged parents to praise their children for being themselves and for doing everything they do.

Interesting. But it's also been suggested that adolescence (emerging adulthood) lasts longer than before, through college and until about age 21 - 23 in developed countries. The symptoms of narcissism are similar to characteristics of young folks figuring out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

Or are there problems with personality inventories?

Or is it just what always happens. Older folks saying "These kids today...too self-involved. They don't care about anyone but themselves!" That's what older folks said about my generation when I was in college. That's what some older people said about the Vietnam War protestors. "I wish they really were pacifists. But it's not war they're against -- they just don't want to die."

Or is this new generation of undergrads different? What do you think?

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