millenials are the anti-narcissistic gen

completely disagreeing with the findings of a recently published study, howe and strauss (the authors of many generational books, including millenials rising) claim that millenials are the least narcissistic generation in a long time. free registration is required to read this article on the l.a. times website, but it’s very worth reading for anyone who cares about teenagers.

here’s a tease, to whet your appetite:

But Twenge and others are wildly mistaken about the Millennial generation — those born since the early 1980s, which some persist in calling Generation Y. No matter what teens say on surveys, there is scant evidence that they act more selfishly. In fact, the trends in youth behavior support the opposite conclusion — namely, that Millennials have much greater regard for each other, their parents and the community than Gen X’ers or baby boomers had at the same phase of life.

5 thoughts on “millenials are the anti-narcissistic gen”

  1. I would definitly have to agree that kids today are much more accepting of others than in the past. But this is still a tough call, it may be just a degree of change because it still seems like there is a fair amount “entitlement” thinking. I guess I should probably make the effort to read the article:-)

  2. The problem is in taking a “survey” of teens. They have become so accustomed and jaded to surveys, not to mention just being teens, that they don’t take the surveys seriously. I would take the results from any survey of teens with a grain of salt, as the methodology is probably flawed.

    The teens are primarily going to answer one of two ways – either they are going to say what they think you want to hear, or they are going to say what they think will get you the most interested. Very few will answer with the factual truth.

  3. This may have something to do with the “Friends” effect and our (my) generation preferring communal above individual living.

    Interesting read.

  4. you can find an “unbiased” (as if such a thing existed) article on the original Twenge study at

    all in all the topic is quite interesting and the two articles together could create some good evaluative discussion among youth pastors if approached with an open mind. both the Twenge study and the response hold some truth…it doesn’t have to be the case that they’re mutually exclusive. some sense of self is certainly a good thing. the question is whether it’s been taken to an extreme. or, possibly, using that same question compartively to prior generations. either way, i thought both articles suffered from over-generalization.

    i also think that Jeff moulton has some good thoughts, too, in questioning the validity of the chosen methods.

  5. One issue which strikes me about the Howe and Strauss piece is that they reflect the work of an author I’ve grown to appreciate. Mike A. Males has written “The Scapegoat Generation” and “Framing Youth”–texts that are somewhat at variance with Chap Clark’s work in “Hurt.”

    Males argues that we often portray youth (via media) as either vicious or fragile… scapegoating them for the ills in society that often adults are far more susceptible to commit. Extreme examples are media portrayals of youth following Columbine or the idea all African American youth are gang members. More subtle examples include “common sense” notions that youth overuse drugs and have indiscriminate sex, when documentation show youth far more “sober” and far less promiscuous than their baby boomer parents. Preoccupation with youth “social ills” mask adult “bad behavior” and also stereotypes youth so we quarantine them from leadership and anethsetize ourselves to real personal issues since we reduce it to a “teen” problem. Here I think Clark can open doors by exposing us to real personal issues without stereotyping all youth in a similar manner.

    I think the same scapegoating happens with children as well, where we reframe adult agendas in “child’s clothing” and then force children to
    participate since we are doing it for “them” anyway. (Example, the battle for prayer in public schools is for whom?)

    Are teens less nacissistic today than in the past? I doubt that anyone truly knows because of all the issues of survey saturation and fatigue, but my hunch is that they are not any worse than we were when we were their age. That at least seems to be one developmental issue we all participate in.

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