Wisdom dictates that the youngest generation is on principle, the most self-obsessed generation. It might be true that youth elects certain narcissistic characteristics, but new research published in The journal Psychology and Aging smartly advises against oversimplifying the association.
After analyzing responses from more than 700 individuals between the ages of 13 and 70, the authors of the pioneering paper discovered that the fundamental hallmarks of true narcissism—being full of yourself, sensitivity to criticism and imposing your opinions on others—dramatically decline as we age.
“As you age, you form new relationships, have new experiences, start a family and so on. All of these factors make someone realize that it’s not ‘all about them.’ And, the older you get, the more you think about the world that you may leave behind,” explained William Chopik, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University and lead author of the report, to Science Daily. “There are things that happen in life that can shake people a little bit and force them to adapt their narcissistic qualities.”
Longitudinal changes and historic differences in narcissism from adolescence to older adulthood.
“There’s a narrative in our culture that generations are getting more and more narcissistic, but no one has ever looked at it throughout generations or how it varies with age at the same time,” Chopik continued. “One thing about narcissists is that they’re not open to criticism. When life happens and you’re forced to accept feedback, break up with someone or have tragedy strike, you might need to adjust to understanding that you’re not as awesome as you once thought.”
Circumstance has the biggest hand to play in attenuating our quixotic impulses. Surely you know of an inexplicably proud outlier that possesses very little aptitude but has managed exceptionally between ventures. Fortunately, these belong to a minority. For the rest of us, our hubris is sobered by the parentage of lurid failures and pinched victories. It thus stands to reason that most of the participants examined in the study were administered their first doses of humility throughout the tenure of their first job.
Self-preservation is another important element of narcissistic personality disorder. Paradoxically, if exhibiting an elitist attitude ceases to yield beneficial results, the subject might consider tempering their worldview in favor of a more tactical one.
Circling back to why youth and self-adulation remain espoused to one another; Chopik found that our green egotistical mentality begins to dissolve around young adulthood and continues to do so even into old age. Among many things, the new study conducted by Michigan State University posits a compelling distinction between narcissism as a neurological defect and narcissism as a yet-to-be attended developmental flaw. Simply put, if defeat inspires you to ruminate more often that invokes you to double down, you’re likely in good hands.
“There’s a sense in which narcissists start to realize that being the way they are isn’t smart if they want to have friends or meaningful relationships, Chopik concludes, One of the most surprising findings was that — also contrary to what many people think — individuals who were born earlier in the century started off with higher levels of hyper-sensitivity, or the type of narcissism where people are full of themselves, as well as willfulness, which is the tendency to impose opinions on others,” Chopik said. “There isn’t much data on older generations, but now that Baby Boomers are aging into that phase of life, it’s a huge part of the population that we need to be looking at.”