Seeing Narcissists Everywhere

From The New York Times:

NarcissistBy comparing decades of personality test results, Dr. Twenge has concluded, over and over again, that younger generations are increasingly entitled, self-obsessed and unprepared for the realities of adult life. And the blame, she says, falls squarely on America’s culture of self-esteem, in which parents praise every child as “special,” and feelings of self-worth are considered a prerequisite to success, rather than a result of it. “There’s a common perception that self-esteem is key to success, but it turns out it isn’t,” she said. Nonetheless, “young people are just completely convinced that in order to succeed they have to believe in themselves or go all the way to being narcissistic.” The message has hit a nerve. Since the 2006 publication of her first book on the subject, “Generation Me,” which sold more than 100,000 copies, Dr. Twenge (pronounced TWANG-ee) has become something of a celebrity psychologist, appearing on the “Today” show, “Good Morning America” and MSNBC, among others, to comment on topics as varied as Facebook and the rise in plastic surgery.

…But as her media profile has risen, so has the volume of criticism from her colleagues. “I think she is vastly misinterpreting or over-interpreting the data, and I think it’s destructive,” said Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research professor in psychology at Clark University. “She is inviting ridicule for a group of people about which there are already negative stereotypes.” Critics like Dr. Arnett see a number of problems with Dr. Twenge’s work. They say the test on which much of her research is based, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, is inherently flawed — better designed to measure feelings of confidence and self-worth than actual narcissism. They also accuse her of focusing too much of her work on students at research universities, who they say are not representative of their generation.

More here.