Narcissism growing in youth

By Amelia Orwick

A recent study by UK psychology professor Nathan DeWall suggests that young people today have developed more narcissistic tendencies than generations before.

According to an article in the New York Times, DeWall and other psychologists reached this conclusion after the results from a computer analysis of hit song lyrics reported an increase in words like “I” and “me” over the last three decades.

The study also showed a noticeable decline in the use of words such as “we” and “us,” which implies that adolescents today are focusing less on positive ideas like togetherness, and more on themselves.

DeWall and his colleagues controlled for genre so that the results would not focus solely on rap and hip-hop, two of today’s most popular music styles, according to the article.

Although the study supported DeWall’s hypothesis that young people have become more conceited, some psychologists doubted that an entire generation’s personality could be defined by song lyrics.

Still, personality tests taken by students have confirmed DeWall’s theory. Levels of narcissism measured by questionnaires continue to increase over time.

Many UK students agree with DeWall to a certain extent, but have their own theories about why today’s society is thought to be so vain.

“I think that over the years, people have just become more able to take care of themselves,” Cory Murphy, a mining engineering freshman, said. “A long time ago it was hard for kids to do anything by themselves but with the technology today, people have developed a more ‘independent’ attitude.”

Other students, like freshmen psychology major Ellen Wall, believe that young people are more aware today than ever.

“I think our generation is more selfish than ones in the past in some senses, but I also think we are a lot more aware of the rest of the world now,” Wall said.

Wall pointed to the recent natural disasters and the aid provided by young people to prove her point.

“When there was the tsunami in Japan we were very concerned about it, where as in the past I think many would have just ignored it,” Wall said. “We can be selfish, but overall I think our world is working more to help others.”