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dimanche 12 février 2012
New generation infected by narcissism, says psychologist
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Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, said a study she conducted of 16,000 university students across the US showed 30 per cent were narcissistic in psychological tests, compared with 15 per cent in 1982. ''They are all 18 and 19-year-olds, so this is clearly a generational shift,'' she said.
Professor Twenge said the finding built on another study based on interviews with 35,000 people of varying ages, who were asked if they had ever had symptoms of narcissism.
''Usually the oldest people have the highest rates, because they have lived for more years, but this data showed the opposite,'' she said. Only 3 per cent of those over 65 had had symptoms, but for people in their 20s it was 10 per cent.
''These were shocking numbers because you can only diagnose this starting at age 18, so there weren't that many years for people in their 20s to develop this, yet their rate was three times as high as people over 65.''
In a keynote address to the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders Congress, Professor Twenge will say that permissive parenting, celebrity culture and the internet are among the causes of the emerging narcissism epidemic.
She said telling children they were special to build self-esteem could foster narcissism.
Narcissists had an inflated sense of self, lacked empathy, were vain and materialistic and had an overblown sense of entitlement. Some resulting social trends were a greater interest in fame and wealth, more plastic surgery, and an increase in attention-seeking crimes - for example, ''beating someone up and putting it on YouTube''.
Professor Twenge was concerned about a culture ''that seems to not just accept narcissism but finds it laudatory … It worries me, when I talk to college students, that they are not surprised at all that their generation is more narcissistic.
''They say, 'We have to be this way because the world is more competitive.' But the problem is that narcissism doesn't help you compete. It blows up in your face eventually.''
She said narcissistic students tended to have poorer results and were more likely to drop out, probably because they thought they didn't have to study because they were already smart. ''It's delusional thinking.''