All those who think that narcissism has dramatically increased in youngsters these days as compared to the youth of previous generations need to think again, for a new study does not show any such rise.
Narcissism is a personality trait encompassing characteristics like arrogance, exhibitionism, and a sense of entitlement.
University of Western Ontario psychologist Kali Trzesniewski and her colleagues Brent Donnellan and Richard Robins measured narcissism in over 25,000 college students from 1996 to 2007. They later compared the data to similar studies conducted in the late 1970's to mid 1980's.
The study did not reveal any evidence showing increased levels of narcissism in youngsters these days.
The researchers also assessed levels of "self-enhancement" — the tendency to hold unrealistically positive beliefs about the self — in a sample of high school seniors. They say that as with college students, the high school seniors did not show any prominent increase on this component of narcissism.
"Today's youth seem to be no more narcissistic and self-aggrandizing than previous generations. We were unable to find evidence that either narcissism or the closely related construct of self-enhancement has increased over the past three decades," write the authors.
The findings run counter to previous research and media reports claiming that narcissism has been steadily increasing among college students, leading some behavioural scientists to dub today's youth as "generation me".
The study has been published in the journal Psychological Science.