February 27, 2007, - 5:05 pm

College Students More Self-Centered Than Ever; More Liberal & Stupid–Coincidence?


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.

Surprise!: College Students More Narcissistic, Bad for America

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.

Says Twenge:

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.

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17 Responses

This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, which probably excludes most people, especially those of that certain party with Marxist/Socialist roots.

DAL357 on February 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Debbie, I have teenage neighbors who I attempt to be friendly to if I see them outside. A couple of these kids are particularly clueless and self- centered, and their parents are too. The polite kids have decent parents.

Anonymous1 on February 27, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Those who serve our country in the military are better Americans than the self-centered military hating pinheads pictured by Debbie. These ingrates owe their freedom and lives to those who serve in the military. It never occured to them that without the military we would be a conquered people. Without the U.S. military the world would be controlled by Marxist dictators and Jihadist maniacs. We are the only power standing in their way. That’s why they hate us so much.

FreethinkerNY on February 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

From the editorial pages at the
Iowa State Daily newspaper…
“The Greek Week Executive Council decided last week to withdraw its support from the blood drive because the American Red Cross has a seemingly discriminatory question on its list against homosexual men.”
I have never been so ashamed to be a Cyclone in my life (Iowa State ’97). These pinheads have nothing better to do than protest a freakin question! *insert Charlie Brown scream here*

cirrus1701 on February 27, 2007 at 7:58 pm

Most in our society would agree that love is the greatest aquisition. Yet, our self focussed society does not realize that those who have love are the ones who self sacrifice for their country and friends. There is no greater love than this.

Doug T on February 27, 2007 at 9:14 pm

These college liberals remind me of 14-year olds who think their parents are so rotten, all the while not noticing they have a very nice roof over their heads. Whom do these college dummies think guarantees their right to carry a sign in the first place?

davidlanham on February 27, 2007 at 11:30 pm

“Whom do these college dummies think guarantees their right to carry a sign in the first place?”
That’s the problem. These kids suffer from a real disconnect from cause and effect. They think that what is now ever shall be, and that all they see in the world is their birthright. If (when, actually) America ever goes through another economic calamity approaching the Great Depression, these people will willingly sell their precious freedoms for empty promises.
Of course, I can’t blame college kids entirely when seniors piss and moan about getting their bennies at someone else’s expense.

DAL357 on February 28, 2007 at 1:13 am

I really have alot of anger toward those who are so stupid as to not understand WHY it is they have freedom from those that want to kill us all.
But, I really came in here to give everyone some good news of great joy!
A new political party is being offered to the tens of millions of Americans who feel that both the Republican party and the Democrat party have NOT led them to achieve what they really want our government to do for them.
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The new party is called the Ôø?New Republican PartyÔø? and can be further studied at my website. This party is what we, and millions of others like us, have all been searching forÔø?but it has never existed beforeÔø?until NOW!

777denny on February 28, 2007 at 3:31 am

I’m the father of a 20 year old college student. He considers himself to be a humanist. His world view is something to be admired. Perhaps he fell thru the cracks. The PC indoctrination is obvious, but his soul is full of courage and his conscious seems to at peace with his abilities. He’s not sure if there’s a God. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t either.
His mother and I were so worried when he postponed his first year of college and headed for the Gulf Coast to help the Katrina victims. After 8 months in Mississippi and Louisiana he packed up his guitar and headed for Bellingham Washington in his 1972 VW Beatle. Mom and I paced the floor for 3 months while he traveled the country breaking down every few hundred miles. Two days here, three days there, 21 days in Castle Rock Colorado where he met the coolest hippies and bikers while earning enough money to put another engine is his car. He literally crossed the country on the music he writes and the passion he exudes.
It’s hard to argue with a kid who says he’s seen and felt the love, compassion and goodwill of his fellow Americans. I never had the courage to fly off the handle and put myself at the mercy of the elements or the possibility of encountering the many fearful things the MSM has engulfed in most of our consciences. From the Mexicans he grew up with in West Michigan to the Blacks and Rednecks of the deep south. Not even the whacky liberals of the Pacific Northwest nor the dirt farmers of the northern plain states provided him with never a reason to hate, let alone question the common decency of his fellow Americans.
He’s a long haired post modern hippy in a VW beetle. A traveling pacifist and a warrior poet. He’s tough enough to defend himself yet as evidently non threatening as the hippies of the sixties were before Charles Manson exposed their vulnerabilities and they traded their passion for sexual promiscuity and consumerism. He’s real, and the Baby Boomers can feel it. His is not a material world, and never will be. Being who he is provides him with few contemporaries his own age but plenty of adoration from the left over patriots of an era long past. Not the Elitist hypocrites like Bush and Clinton or the progressive social engineers he encounters throughout his public education, but the real Americans who never needed the PC indoctrination or zero tolerance crammed down their throat to keep them from committing some, imaginary hate crime.
I honestly believe he fell thru the cracks. The ADHD is a blessing. The drugs we were encouraged to administer failed to help him pass 7th grade. We as parents want what’s right or kids. My wife wanted to continue the ever increasing regiment while I fought to relieve us from the stigma of social norms. My insistence on removing his chains was a dangerous bet.
Ironically and lucky for me! Our son had courage and the adequate level of narcissism to face his new classmates for his second trip thru 7th grade. It was my wife who insisted he return to the same school and deal with his fears of failure, regardless of who’s fault they were. Within just a few months off the pills a miracle happened. This kid who couldn’t remember why he went to the fridge or what homework was due, picked up a guitar and started to sing. Naive was the first song he wrote.
My two favorite songs are Young American (which he truly is) and Everybody Treats You Right. (about Katrina) The boy has a message everyone should here. The only problem is he nor any of his band mates are narcissistic enough to promote themselves anywhere but Myspace. Their just not that in to their selves.

mydadsalib on February 28, 2007 at 6:27 am

mydadsalib, sounds like your son is a bum.
“His is not a material world, and never will be.”
Give me a break. I am going to write that on my next house payment, I’m sure they’ll agree.
“A traveling pacifist and a warrior poet.”
Great, flowery “We are the World” prose can’t hide the fact your son is a stupid hippie bum. Too bad we didn’t know about that warrior poetry to fight the Islamo fascists before going to war! Here, take that killer poem, bin Laden! I’m sure old bin Laden would have gone back to his cave and he and his buds would gather around the campfire roasting marshmellows after one of those warrior poems.
“The only problem is he nor any of his band mates are narcissistic enough to promote themselves anywhere but Myspace.”
Why would he want to promote themselves? Surely not to make money and get famous, would he?

Jeff_W on February 28, 2007 at 9:57 am

You really cannot blame the kids because they are the product of our re-education centers.
When you do not teach the 3 R’s and what little history is taught is rewritten to reflect the socialist thinking of the NEA,what do you expect?
This study just proves that the liberal takeover of our school system is working as designed.

ScottyDog on February 28, 2007 at 11:24 am

The indoctrination is everywhere. The parents (and I am one) are the only ones around to counter it.
I think Alexandra Pelosi’s shameful, self-righteous, and arrogant mocking of Christian America in her recent HBO “documentary” is symptomatic (and I’m sure her mother feels the same way).
The Alexandra Pelosi’s of this country would turn us into the sort of weak and shriveled people who populate every European country, those unable to resist the rising aggression of radical Islam.
The sniveling, narcissistic, condescending, arrogrant brats like Ms. Pelosi would destroy our freedom and prosperity. She should thank all of America’s good Christians, because it is they who provide the moral fiber to defend hers.

sonomaca on February 28, 2007 at 11:31 am

Well, it’s sad that I’m being repersented by those people in college. It’s hard for some to believe a 24 year old black male loves this country, supports the military, believes in the real morals, and has any sort of brains as to what is truly going on.
Well, that’s me people. And I’m ashamed I’m from today’s generation.

Squirrel3D on February 28, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Squirrel, you sound like someone who needs to start a blog.

Stealthkix on February 28, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Squirrel 3D,
It’s not hard to believe a black male loves his country, supports the military..etc. I was in the military and now I work in the government, there were plenty of black Americans who are just like you. You are just outnumbered in college. Universities tend to attract people looking for causes and whacked out on drugs. The dudes above look like they smoke weed.
You’ll find saner people in the real world, as long as you don’t work in Hollywood, the media or as a professor, you’ll be ok.

Minnie Mouse on March 1, 2007 at 6:48 pm

I’m guessing many people would dub me a liberal because of a few of my viewpoints (I’m actually quite apathetic because I can’t stand any politician). However, I try very hard not to be a narcissist and try feel sympathy – if not empathy – for others in situations that are completely foreign to me.

I have met many people: liberal, conservative, progressive who fall into the “narcissist” category and many who don’t. I don’t think having a certain political viewpoint has any bearing on the lack of empathy or feelings of entitlement, etc. Anyone who can hurt another person’s feelings or act in a capricious manner because it suits their purpose is a narcissistic and opportunistic person regardless of their social viewpoints.

The correlation between conceit and liberal-mindedness is shallow and has no real scientific basis. It’s flimsy for even arguing that the “I am special” mantra was taught only to kids who currently have a liberal mindset. Besides, how liberal is liberal? The real problem is that people want to feel special for little things they do without truly excelling at it. This has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative or whatever. It has everything to do with being comfortable with mediocrity.

Many people become outwardly successful (materialistically speaking); what people don’t concentrate on is how successful they are as people. Most people aren’t taught to be accountable for their thoughts, words and actions if they don’t have legal consequences.

Here’s a hypothetical: A guy meets a girl and starts talking to her because he seems to like her. They exchange information and continue talking for many months. The girl really cares about him and according to his behaviour, thinks the feeling is mutual. She’s told him in a previous conversation how sheltered she’s grown up and how she feels about him; he comforted her and told her about his plans of going to medical school. But all of a sudden, he stops calling her. The girl is crushed. She calls him and leaves many messages telling him that she’s confused about what happened and even apologises for anything she may have said. She starts having feelings of dread that he’s laughing behind her back and telling his friends about a crazy girl who won’t leave him alone. Few months later, he leaves a message on her voice mail telling her that he’d like for her to not contact him because he thinks she’s having an emotional meltdown. Before his last voice mail, the girl found out that he’d been dating his MCAT instructor (who fell for him because she’s a chunky bag but can help him and he’s rich – It’s a win-win situation for both opportunists.) while he was still talking to HER, and that they were getting married in the next year or so.

This guy is a douchebag – a coward, cruel and indecent person – who took advantage of is friend’s feelings for his own personal fun. Some doctor he’ll make. So, this is an example of how the stereotype of a doctor as a caring person is blown out of the water. Likewise with idiotic little articles touting how LIBERALS ARE CONCEITED…that’s a BIG blanket statement that ‘holds no water.’

Doctor-douchebag is an oxymoron but sadly, it happens because like political viewpoints and personal behaviour, occupation and personal behaviour have no correlation. They are mutually exclusive events however much correlation they SEEM to have. In that case there shouldn’t even BE an argument that states a correlation between narcissism and liberalism because aren’t conservatives all about business and capitalism and therefore more narcissistic than liberals? How does THAT sound? Yes, I’m generalising but I’m making a point with my blanket statement. People behave in certain ways due to their upbringing (or drugs, but we’re sticking to behaviour not brought on by non-hallucinogenics or mental illness) not their social viewpoints. You can have a person with a certain political viewpoint who is rude as hell or is so sensitive to a horrible tragedy that they are moved to tears for the victim they’ve never met or knew.

The article points out that this was the motto of liberal movements in the ’60s and ’70s, but weren’t there former college students who were already grown up and were already conservatives during this time? Were they all saintly, generous people who thought more about their fellow man than themselves? If so, how did someone like Bernie Madoff succeed for such a long time? How did Bear Stearns and the Lehman Brothers collapse in such a huge way? Surely, they weren’t all run by narcissistic liberals. Granted, the economy wasn’t doing well in the first place, but 2 powerful firms don’t just collapse like THAT. You really have to have a bunch of opportunistic, unscrupulous narcissistic people who care only about their own prestige and pocket running an enterprise like that to fall so hard. And, my guess is, not all of them were liberal.

mithu on September 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm

So, I just wrote about the article (I know I have some typos in there…). Anyway, I went back to the comments written in response to the article and I’m astounded by the sheer ignorance that people are spewing here. I’m not even sure if people are ranting against college education or diversity of thought and culture. Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t want to meet most of the people who’ve left comments, though ‘mydadsalib’ seems like a very decent and respectful fellow.

I am confused by the slew of comments made by readers who keep ranting about students who are ungrateful for the sacrifices the U.S. military makes for the freedom of U.S. citizens.

Nowhere in the article does it state (except for the author’s unfounded and undocumented statement) that students aren’t grateful. The photo in the middle of the article doesn’t even describe what the study at SD State University found. Though, their study is pretty general and flimsy and didn’t poll just liberal-minded students. The article points out “study after study shows that increasing number of Ivy League students…” First of all, not all Ivy Leaguers study American history in college, and secondly, many Ivy Leaguers aren’t even American!

I wonder if the author can name all the Ivy League schools without looking them up…and I wonder if she can do algebra, which by the way IS a requirement of MIDDLE SCHOOLERS in Massachusetts if they ever want to pass the MCAS and graduate from high school.

I think there are people commenting here who haven’t attended college and therefore they have no clue that college students come from very diverse backgrounds – culturally, socially, economically, politically, religiously, etc. Believe it or not guys, there are college students in your friendly neighbourhood university who are just as intolerant of diversity as you are. To me, those are the stupid ones because they don’t care to learn to deeply about other cultures.

Whatever little they DO know about a culture spurs them to make ridiculously ignorant statements like the one I heard (yes, this is a true story) from a guy who was in the U.S. Navy, “Isn’t India the ‘Land of the Kama Sutra’?” Ahem, what was it about the military all of you were saying…?

mithu on September 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm

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