Are Young Adults More Narcissistic Than Older Adults?
We address the question of whether young adults are generally more narcissistic than older adults. Older generations often characterize younger generations as relatively egoistic versus altruistic. For example, the Depression-era generation labeled its Baby Boomer offspring the “Me Generation” which is essentially the same label that the Baby Boomer generation now uses to characterize its own Millennial offspring (“Generation Me”).
We review various past research findings on the nature of the relationship between age and (sub-clinical) narcissism. These findings are mixed in part due to studies’ focus on age effects versus cohort effects. Although these findings are mixed, studies suggest that both older adults and young adults view young adults as more narcissistic compared to older adults.
Understanding differences due to age in narcissistic tendencies is important from a marketing perspective. For example, by targeting consumers’ egoistic (vs. altruistic) values, advertisers can increase felt involvement with a product and in turn the effectiveness of their persuasive appeals.