Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, ‘Mmm yeah, I’m killing it today’? You might be part of the problem. Young people are basically selfish, narcissistic spoiled brats – and it’s old people’s fault, a psychologist has revealed. Speaking to NPR this week, psychologist Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me, says that young ‘Millennials’ are more likely than their parents to claim they’re above average in just about every way. But there is no evidence they actually are, Twenge says. Twenge says that Millennials score more highly on narcissism tests, agreeing with statements such as, ‘I like to look at myself in the mirror’.
Twenge points to cultural changes such as parents giving children unique names – and a shift in parenting style more generally – as being behind the trend. Books and pop songs aimed at the young are also more self-focused, using phrases such as ‘I am special’. But she points out that while the young may be more self-confident, many report being more depressed and anxious – suggesting that some young people may face a ‘rude awakening’ when they come to get a job.
Here’s a list of some of what she’s observed:
- On the whole, millennials are simply more narcissistic than previous generations. That is, they score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. This survey asks people if they relate to statements like “I have a natural talent for influencing people” and “I like to look at myself in the mirror.”
- More parents are giving their children unique names. Back in the 50s, a third of boys and a quarter of girls were named one of the 10 most popular names of the time. Today, fewer than one in ten are given a popular name.
- Pop songs are more focused on the self. So are books, which use phrases like “I am special” and “all about me” more frequently now.
- Using social media may lead people to view themselves more positively. And we know how much millennials love social media.