Description: If you were born after 1980 then you are a “millennial”, at least according to Pop-Psyc (what non-psychologists are saying that is “based in” Psychology). And, what have you heard about your “generation”? Narcissistic? Entitled? Snowflakes? Etc. etc.? Other than the older generations dumping on the current youth/young adult cohort (believe me this has been going on for generations!) is any of this true? Well THAT sounds like a hypothesis doesn’t it? How about we look and see if it has been tested? The article linked below does a very nice job walking trough some of the current contradictory theories and findings in this area and even talks a bit about why the findings out there are so discrepant.
Source: Millennials are narcissistic? The evidence is not so simple, Christian Jarrett, Personology, Psychology, BBC Future.
Date: November 17, 2017
Photo Credit: Getty Images
So which line of theory and research feels more right to you (and yes I know what things “feel like” is not really scientific or thoughtful but nevertheless which feels right (based on what you know about how to evaluate theories and research in Psychology? Does Jean Twenge’s work based on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory track? How about Peter Arnett’s work on emerging adulthood? How about Brent Robert’s work on cross generational views? In sorting this out it is important to pay close attention to what one or the other of the researchers/theorists did, measured, or considered that the others did not. You may have to go and read the original studies to fully understand the differences but it is in those differences that you will start to see how the various research strands might start to fit together, where they overlap and where, it turns out, they are actually looking at different things or at least at things differently than are the other researchers. Sorting out such differences can be a very engaging way to get your head around an area of study within Psychology and this one may actually apply to you so perhaps that will make it even more interesting.
Questions for Discussion:
- Are millennials (university students of today) more narcissistic than previous students?
- What is the current state of the debate over answers to question 1 above with the Psychology research literature?
- What are some factors that might, at least to some extent, help account for the discrepancies within this research area?
References (Read Further):
Barry, C.T., Kerig, P.K., Stellwagen, K.K., & Barry, T.D. (Eds.). (2011). Narcissism and Machiavellianism in youth: Implications for the development of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Washington, D.C.: APA.
Trzesniewski, K.H. & Donnellan, M.B. (2010). Rethinking “Generation Me”: A study of cohort effects from 1976–2006. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 5, 58–75. http://news.msu.edu/media/documents/2010/03/d86dd7ab-adb0-4887-a043-96b559595fe2.pdf
Twenge, J.M., & Campbell, W.K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York: Free Press. http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/twenge2009.pdf
Twenge, J. M., Konrath, S., Foster, J. D., Keith Campbell, W., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Egos inflating over time: A cross‐temporal meta‐analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Journal of personality, 76(4), 875-902. http://www.academia.edu/download/30457618/twengekonrathfoster2008ajop.pdf
Dingfelder, Sadie F. (2011) Reflecting on narcissism. APA Monitor, 42(2) 64, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/narcissism.aspx