Recessions take a lasting toll on narcissism

Hard economic times dent young adults’ self-regard for decades

11:26am, May 23, 2014

SELF ADJUSTMENTS  This graph shows changes in average national unemployment rates (from a low of 4.28 percent to a high of 7.73 percent) during young adulthood for volunteers in a new study, by year of birth. Those who faced peaks of unemployment were less narcissistic later in life than those who encountered the best employment prospects.

Bad economies levy a tax on narcissism, at least among young adults, a new study suggests.

People who came of age during economic recessions report and display fewer signs of extreme self-absorption than those who entered adulthood during relatively prosperous periods, says management professor Emily Bianchi of Emory University in Atlanta.

A strong economy during the late 1980s and 1990s may partly explain reports of rising narcissism rates among U.S. college students of that era, Bianchi proposes May 8 in Psychological Science. If so, humility should have begun to reassert itself among young adults who have grappled with the economic recession that began in 2008, she predicts.

Narcissists view themselves as superior in all situations, feel entitled to special treatment and expect to always succeed and be admired and praised (SN: 8/13/11, p. 16).

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