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Do Today’s Young People Really Think They Are So Extraordinary? An Examination of Secular Trends in Narcissism and Self-Enhancement

The present research investigated secular trends
in narcissism and self-enhancement over the past three
decades. Despite recent claims about the impact of the
‘‘self-esteem movement’’ on the current generation of
young people, we found no evidence that college students’
scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory increased
from the 1980s through 2007 (N 5 26,867), although we
did find small changes in specific facets of narcissism.
Similarly, we found no evidence that high school students’
level of self-enhancement, defined by the discrepancy
between their perceived intelligence and their actual
academic achievements, increased from 1976 to 2006
(N 5 410,527). These results cast doubt on the belief that
today’s young people have increasingly inflated impressions
of themselves compared with previous generations.
Dr. Kali Trzesniewski,
Oct 24, 2011, 3:25 PM