Millennials and Gen Zers are the most self-absorbed generation….according to themselves. A new study published in open access scientific journal PLOS one, reveals these two generations are at once aware of their narcissism and more than a little bummed about it.
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The value of self-interest
The report is titled, “Emerging adult reactions to labeling regarding age-group differences in narcissism and entitlement.” and is authored by two psychologists, W. Kieth Cambell and Jean Twenge. Results achieved via a test called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory suggests a surge in vanity occurred between the years 1976 and 2006. Despite how commonplace narcissism seems to be amongst younger generations, the study concurrently observed a collective disdain and embarrassment expressed by the very same study group.
The authors report, “Results from cross-sectional samples of university students at two universities, as well as an online convenience sample of web-using adults, indicated that emerging adults believe their age-group and the one following them to be the most narcissistic and entitled age-groups, that they have generally negative opinions of narcissism and entitlement, and that they respond negatively to being labeled as narcissistic and entitled.”
The authors correctly point out how frequently this undesirable quality is associated with young Americans, despite the comparatively little empirical research that has been conducted on it. Older generations were found to agree with millennials and generation Z about their narcism, though the former typically exaggerated the degree. Some subjects reported the opinion that ultimately it is a desirable individual trait, but a negative social one. In other words, acting primarily in accordance with your own self-interest is a useful survival mechanism, even though it is also an embarrassing quality to be associated with.
The authors conclude, “Additionally, narcissists seem to view narcissism as an individually—but not socially—desirable trait and to express a desire to increase their own levels of narcissism. In short, narcissists seem to think highly of their own narcissistic traits, despite some awareness that such traits may not be socially desirable.”
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