Free Essay on Whether Today's Youth Are More Self-Centred Than Previous Generations

Published: 2017-09-12
Free Essay on Whether Today's Youth Are More Self-Centred Than Previous Generations
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Psychology Literature Social psychology
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1583 words
14 min read


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Brent Slifes book Taking Sides espouses a wide range of issues in psychology. One of the most compelling topics discussed in the book is the controversy surrounding the youths of today vis-a-vis the previous generations. The author discusses this topic in issue seven, titled Are Today's Youth More Self-Centred than Previous Generations? Based on this topic, the question can be answered in to ways first there are those who agree that the youths of today are very different from the previous generations. This perspective holds that most people today are very different as compared to their parents and grandparents. Those who hold this opinion believe that young people today are more narcissistic as compared to the previous generations when they were of a similar age. On the other hand, those opposed to this view argue that there is enough evidence illustrating that there has not been much change between the levels of narcissism between the previous generations and the young people today. Therefore, there is not any difference between the youths of today and those of the preceding generations.

Summary of Both Positions

The first position on this controversial topic agrees with the perspective that youths of today are very different form the previous generations. Thus, todays youths are more self-centred than previous generations. Professor Jean M. Twenge is one of the most vocal proponents of this position. The psychology professor at San Diego State University claims that based on his cross-temporal meta-analysis youths today are more narcissistic, more egocentric, assertive, and self-confident as compared to the previous generations. His study established that newer generations often portray enhanced narcissistic traits than their parents or any of their preceding generations. The study was based on an analysis of findings gathered from a sample of 85 young Americans in college using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which is a psychological tool used to measure levels of narcissism. This implies that on average, many college students in the US agree with two or more narcissistic items when compared to the results obtained from previous generations, such as the young people of the 80s.

Therefore, based on these findings, psychologists who hold this position argue that the increase in narcissism can be ambiguous since it deals with many different positive outcomes like extroversion, self-respect, and life satisfaction as well as the development of argentic traits, self-esteem, and assertiveness. Moreover, Twenge argues that narcissism can occur as a result of short term likeability, short term victories, and enhanced performance in competitive tasks. Narcissism has a wide range of negative consequences on young people, including the fact that it distorts ones judgement and decision making as well as leading to addictive tendencies such as alcoholic abuse, gambling, or compulsive shopping. Furthermore, some of these negative consequences may be linked to troubled romantic relationships, increased aggression, and other related factors.

On the other hand, the opposing position holds that the youths of today are no different from their previous generations. For example, a study conducted by Kali Trzesniewski, Richard Robins, and Brent Donnellan, which was published in the article, Do Todays Young People Think They Are So Extraordinary provides elaborate evidence to this fact. The study was based on an analysis of 20000 students in a gap of ten years in 1996 and in 2007. The researchers then compared their findings with the data taken form analogical research studied conducted in the 1970s and 80s. Based on this analysis, the researchers were not able to establish any significant changes in the levels of narcissism between the two different generations (Trzesniewski et al., 2008). Therefore, Trzesniewski et al., (2008) concluded that youths of today are no different from their previous generations.

My Position

My personal opinion on this controversial topic is that different generations always tend to be different. Therefore, I believe that the youths of today are more self-centred than those in previous generations. The differences in the generations may be as a result of different factors including changes in the political, social, economic, and cultural environment. The sociocultural environment that the contemporary youths live in is very different from that experienced by previous generations. With the penetration of modern technologies in the contemporary American society, the youths of today are more exposed to a wide range of information and access to communication technologies that were non-existent in the previous generations before them. The life for youths today seems to be a lot easier since they can access a wide range of information, with innumerable opportunities for them to improve their lives and become better each day. With these technological changes, the young people have become extremely cautious about how they relate with technology in terms of their privacy concerns, respect for human rights, and a host of other concerns that were not as imminent as in the previous generations as he are today. This has made youths today to be more self-centred and individualistic in a manner that was not visible among other generations in the past.

Nonetheless, I believe that the pertinent differences that exist between the youths today and the previous generations can be accounted for by the widespread self-esteem movement in the 1980s. The main objective of this movement was to build self-confidence of young people, increase their productivity, and enhance their motivation. This movement caught up with young people, giving them self-belief that they can achieve anything they want if they focus on it. However, as people become more self-confident, they usually tend to become overconfident, egocentric, selfish, and narcissistic. This is what has accounted, in my opinion, to the differences between the youths of today and those of the previous generations in terms of their self-centeredness.

Application of the Controversy

In explaining whether today's youth more self-centred than previous generations, Gupta (2016) introduces the word identity politics and defines it as the state at which one's ideologies are based on phenotypic factors such as skin colour and gender. The review condemns identity politics by recommending that politicians should pursue administration offices based on the social conditions of the people such as living standards and nation-state rather than race, sexuality and social classes. This stand propels the youth to vote based on their judgement rather than following the opinions of their place of origin.

Bliss (2013) argues that development of science has significantly diminished the existence of identity politics. According to Bliss (2013), science has enabled the society to understand the potential of human in general, thus appreciating people of different sexualities and races in places of work, home and public. Unlike in the old days, where the life of the young one was determined by the parents, the youths of today choose careers based on information they gathered themselves, hence abandoning the old ways of sourcing income. Even if the parent wants the youth to pursue a scientific course, the youths have become self-centred in their dreams making them free to engage in the world of art.

However, Wheaton (2015) holds that identity politics has increased in the Western countries especially in the sports sector. Wheaton argues that the Western governments heavily invest in and support types of sports that are more mastered by the White people, hence neglecting the sports of interest among the minority. This shows that the culture of selfishness among the youths is strongly initiated by the older people.

How My Issues Apply to Various Literacies

Weekly Review (2015) explains the topic of this generations self-centredness as brought out in Taking Sides by Soto Gary by showing the transformation of the Latin community in America. The review explains how there is a new generation of the Hispanics who have embraced togetherness by adapting different challenges experienced through racial discrimination and hatred. Larrain (2013) explains that the Latin youths have grasped myriad opportunities in employment and social services because they have dissociated themselves from the culture of isolating themselves and started to freely interact with other cultures in America. As much as the youths may seem selfish since they have not followed the traditions of the past, the move is beneficial. Staudenmaier (2016) acknowledges that racial self-seclusion denies a culture, the opportunities brought about by the hybridization of the market


Gary Sotos story shows that people are more willing to pick sides based on their best interest and they care less about their friends and other people than was the case in earlier days. In the past generation, one should be inspired by their interests, but also by the interest of their friends. Today, people are more driven to make self-based decisions without caring for the cost of that decision to other people. This was brought out clearly in the story, and contrasts what used to happen in the older generations, where people saw each other as equally or more deserving compared to themselves.


Bliss, C. (2013). The marketization of identity politics. Sociology, 47(5), pp. 1011-1025.

Gupta, A. (2016). A War of All Against All: A Review of Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism, Cindy Milstein, ed. AK Press: Oakland

Larrain, J. (2013). Identity and modernity in Latin America. John Wiley & Sons.

Soto G. (2003). Taking Sides. HMH Book for Young Readers: Boston, USA.

Staudenmaier, M. (2016). Taking Sides on Taking Sides: A Response to Arun Guptas Review of Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism. AK Press, Oakland.

Weekly Review. (2016). Summary.Taking Sides. Retrieved from

Wheaton, B. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On action sport and the politics of identity. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4-5), pp. 634-639.

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