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The Narcissism Epidemic Is Dead; Long Live the Narcissism Epidemic.

  • Author(s): Wetzel, Eunike;
  • Brown, Anna;
  • Hill, Patrick L;
  • Chung, Joanne M;
  • Robins, Richard W;
  • Roberts, Brent W
  • et al.
Abstract

Are recent cohorts of college students more narcissistic than their predecessors? To address debates about the so-called "narcissism epidemic," we used data from three cohorts of students (1990s: N = 1,166; 2000s: N = 33,647; 2010s: N = 25,412) to test whether narcissism levels (overall and specific facets) have increased across generations. We also tested whether our measure, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), showed measurement equivalence across the three cohorts, a critical analysis that had been overlooked in prior research. We found that several NPI items were not equivalent across cohorts. Models accounting for nonequivalence of these items indicated a small decline in overall narcissism levels from the 1990s to the 2010s ( d = -0.27). At the facet level, leadership ( d = -0.20), vanity ( d = -0.16), and entitlement ( d = -0.28) all showed decreases. Our results contradict the claim that recent cohorts of college students are more narcissistic than earlier generations of college students.

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