The July/August 2007 issue of the Atlantic Monthly discussed a 24-year study by Jean M. Twenge which examined the rate of narcissism in college students.. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), a 40-question survey, was administered to 16,475 college students in the United States between 1982 and 2006.
It was found that there has been a steady increase in the rate of narcissism. Almost 2/3 of the sample had a higher rate of narcissism than the 1982 average. Narcissism is particularly more prevalent in college students born after 1982.
One reason for the upswing in narcissism may have to do with the prevalence of “me-centered” blogging and social networking websites. My personal theory is that there has been more and more of a push to teach “self-esteem” in the schools. Considering that the NPI asked students if they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I think I am a special person” and “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place”, it’s no wonder that students who were taught the “self-esteem” curriculum in school would agree with those statements.
Twenge, JM et al. (2007). Egos inflating over time: A test of two generational theories of narcissism using cross-temporal meta-analysis. Unpublished manuscript.