The Millennial generation gets a lot of flack for simply existing. Individuals born roughly between 1980 and 1996, various think pieces have declared, are “narcissistic, overconfident, entitled and lazy,” “addicted to social media,” and otherwise incapable of doing anything but gazing at their own navels (through the lenses of their iPhones, surely). Despite evidence showing that Millennials aren’t all that different from what previous generations were like in their youth, plenty of news organizations still devote space to excoriating kids today for being self-obsessed.
The thing is, if you tell people they’re narcissistic enough, they’ll probably start to believe you. According to new research presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s annual meeting in January, Millennials do believe themselves to be more narcissistic than previous generations.
Over the course of seven experiments, researchers from Case Western Reserve University’s psychology department had people in a wide range of age groups rate the narcissism levels of various generations. They also rated their responses to articles about generational change, such as a Time magazine cover story called “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” All generations viewed their own age group as less narcissistic than other groups ranked them, but older generations in particular piled on Millennials for their narcissism, while absolving their own age group.
Millennials between the ages of 18 and 25 (a group that skews younger than some definitions of Millennial, which can go up to age 35) on average rated themselves 61.4 on a 100-point scale for narcissism, while the same group rated adults over 60 years old as just 38. Meanwhile, people ages 60 and up ranked Millennials as 65.3 on the same scale, while ranking their own generation at 26.5.
But even if they agree, Millennials don’t actually appreciate being constantly told they’re narcissistic, study author Joshua Grubbs told Live Science. (Imagine that.) However, while many Millennials were offended by how narcissistic other generations deemed them, individuals who personally scored high for narcissistic traits were less distraught over it. Just embrace your role as generational scapegoat, Millennials!
[h/t Live Science]