Posted on 09-04-2010
Filed Under (Overcoming barriers) by Anita Kelly

This week I showed my Personality class some data (from Jean Twenge and her colleagues) that the students already knew about. It turns out that college students’ narcissism, as measured by the Narcissism Personality Inventory, has been steadily rising since 1982.

So what exactly does this mean? Have you youngsters watched one episode too many of Barney? Are you exploiting your roommates and friends more than your parents did back in college?

Jean Twenge has argued that this increase in narcissism is bad news because she has shown that when narcissists get rejected, they lash out aggressively against their rejecters AND innocent bystanders.

But maybe when you’re in college, you are supposed to be a little narcissistic. How else are you supposed to muster the energy to do important things with your life, like start a foundation or write a great book? Was Bill Gates a narcissist when he dropped out of Harvard to eventually head Microsoft and then start a foundation to save millions of children from dying of malaria?

Please let us know what your thoughts are about all this.

(1) Comment   


Megan on 12 April, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

I recently finished reading a book by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell called The Narcissism Epidemic which goes into detail about this fascinating topic. Personally, I think self-confidence is a wonderful thing when it is paired with a healthy dose of realism. Unfortunately, however, I’ve seen so many recent college graduates who have struggled in the “real world” because of some of the symptoms of narcissism that Twenge and Campbell discuss. It’s difficult for many young adults who have been successful in college to realize that maybe they don’t know it all, that no matter how marketable their skills might be, they may still have a lot to learn in their new endeavors. From what I’ve seen thus far, the people who have the most success are the ones who have a realistic view of their abilities and are willing to learn from others who have more knowledge and experience. A similar concept might apply to some students’ transition from high school to college–for those students who might have an inflated view of their accomplishments and abilities, the transition can be difficult when they realize they’re not as well prepared or successful as others.

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