February 27, 2007, - 5:05 pm
San Diego State University Professor Jean Twenge, in a study of 16,475 college students nationwide, found that today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than ever.
Twenge, who utilized the Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey with the students, rightfully worries that this trend could be harmful to American society. I’d say “could be” is an understatement. We’re already there. And–surprise, surprise–this trend is a result of the absurd, liberal “self esteem” movement of the ’60s, ’70s, and beyond.
We need to stop endlessly repeating ‘You’re special’ and having children repeat that back,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “Kids are self-centered enough already.”
Twenge and her colleagues, in findings to be presented at a workshop Tuesday in San Diego on the generation gap, examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006.
The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such statements as “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place,” “I think I am a special person” and “I can live my life any way I want to.”
The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students’ NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.
Narcissism can have benefits, said study co-author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people “or auditioning on ‘American Idol.'” [DS: Yes, we need to be worried about not enough people auditioning for “American Idol.” That’s the ticket.]\
“Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others,” he said.
The study asserts that narcissists “are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”
Twenge, the author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others.
The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the “self-esteem movement” that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far.
As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” in preschool: “I am special, I am special. Look at me.”
“Current technology fuels the increase in narcissism,” Twenge said. “By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube.”
Some analysts have commended today’s young people for increased commitment to volunteer work. But Twenge viewed even this phenomenon skeptically, noting that many high schools require community service and many youths feel pressure to list such endeavors on college applications.
And by the way, there’s an interesting parallel trend that goes along with this narcissism: American college students are more liberal than they’ve been in decades. And more ignorant (study after study shows that increasing numbers of Ivy League students and others at top schools don’t know the most basic facts about American history and government). Maybe a college degree online would be a better option.
Hmmm . . . you think there’s a correlation? You don’t say.
Don’t forget, the ’60s and ’70s marching, protesting, Vietnam-protesting college students of America were among the most self-centered and selfish. And the most liberal.
In contrast, those who served in Vietnam were the ones who made sacrifices. They were the true anti-narcissists. And, in general, the better Americans.
Tags: America, college applications, Debbie Schlussel San, General, Georgia, Ivy League, Jean Twenge, lead author, Professor, San Diego, San Diego State University, study co-author, the better Americans, University of Georgia, Vietnam, W. Keith Campbell, YouTube