Sunday, January 6, 2013

"The Narcissism Epidemic"

By Donald Sensing

Once upon a time, a wise man wrote the following advice:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility esteem others more than yourselves.
Well, that's gone the way of the dodo in America.

BBC News - Does confidence really breed success?
About nine million young people have filled out the American Freshman Survey, since it began in 1966. 
It asks students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas - and over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being "above average" for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.
This was revealed in a new analysis of the survey data, by US psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues.
Graphic showing how the the percentage of American students rating themselves as "above average" has gone up. Measures shown: Drive to achieve, social self-confidence, intellectual self-confidence, leadership ability and writing ability
Another study by Twenge suggested there has been a 30% tilt towards narcissistic attitudes in US students since 1979.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines narcissism as: "Excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, self-centredness."
In The Narcissism Epidemic, co-written with Keith Campbell, Twenge blames the growth of narcissistic attitudes on a range of trends - including parenting styles, celebrity culture, social media and access to easy credit, which allows people to appear more successful than they are.
"What's really become prevalent over the last two decades is the idea that being highly self-confident - loving yourself, believing in yourself - is the key to success.
"Now the interesting thing about that belief is it's widely held, it's very deeply held, and it's also untrue."
Finally:

Am I a narcissist?

Close-up of a woman wearing red lipstick
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory asks 40 questions, then ranks you on a narcissism scale
I wonder how many test takers will see their scores and post on Facebook, "Look how well I did on the narcissism test!"

Update: Oddly related: "How college students think they are more special than EVER: Study reveals rocketing sense of entitlement on U.S. campuses"

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