Narcissism on rise among American college students

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 - 5:57pm IST | Place: Washington | Agency: ANI
To measure narcissism, researchers use the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI), a standardized test with the 40 paired statements.

Are you spending too much time in front of the mirror? Do you constantly click yourself with the cellphone? Well, then you do have something in common with a large number of American students- narcissism.

According to a new study, narcissism has increased among Americans over the past 15 years.

The joint study from San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of South Alabama, has found that the United States is poised to experience social problems as younger narcissists age and move into positions of power.

The study, led by SDSU psychologist Jean Twenge, was aimed at settling a hot debate in psychology over mixed results of studies examining the prevalence of narcissistic personality traits among tens of thousands of American college students.

These traits include an unfounded sense of entitlement and overly high self-regard.

But, such rise in narcissism could prove problematic for American society in the near future and may have already had a negative impact.

According to some researchers, the current credit bubble plaguing the American economy and the global financial crisis are the result of the risky decision-making and sense of entitlement associated with narcissism.

Thus, with the growing number of narcissists, US could experience even more social problems as a result.

"What this means is that we have generations of people entering the workforce that expect special treatment, are demanding of others and making risky decisions -- ones that could be quite costly when you consider recent business fiascoes," Discovery News quoted Amy Brunell, an Ohio State researcher unaffiliated with the study, as saying.

Increase in narcissism has been attributed to many causes-parents, teachers and the media, which either allow or celebrate overly permissive attitudes toward individualism, and lead to an inflated and unwarranted sense of self-importance.

To measure narcissism, researchers use the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI), a standardized test with the 40 paired statements.

In the study, the researchers re-evaluated the data used in prior research.

They found that a large sample from University of California at Davis, which has experienced less of an increase in narcissism prevalence than other campuses across the country, skewed the results.

The researchers also examined data nationwide among various age groups and data taken over 15 years at the University of South Alabama.

They found the school's student population experienced a surge in narcissistic personality traits from 1994 to 2009. In 1994, 18 percent of students scored 21 or higher on the NPI. By 2009, 34 percent of students at South Alabama scored within that range.

"I'm extremely confident. I think these analyses end the debate completely. It's clear narcissism is rising," said Twenge.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.




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