Book: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

Is Facebook making us narcissists?

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement By Jean M. Twenge & W. Keith Campbell; Free Press, 2009; 352 pp.; US $26; ISBN: 978-1-4165-7598-6.

I tweet, therefore I am. Or is it, I tweet, therefore I am insufferable?

As if Paris Hilton weren’t clue enough, we now have statistical evidence that young adults are a lot more in love with themselves than they used to be.

In The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Jean M. Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and W. Keith Campbell, a social psychologist at the University of Georgia, look to the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which measures self-regard, materialism, and lack of empathy. They found that the number of college students scoring high on the test has risen by 30 percent since the early 1980s.

The authors blame the usual suspects—the self-esteem movement, indulged children, unjustified praise by teachers, celebrity culture, reality shows, easy credit. But they also cite social networking tools, such as MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

”Using Facebook doesn’t mean you’re a narcissist,” says Campbell. ”But the ones who scored highest on the narcissism test tended to have more friends, wall posts, glamour shots, and self-promoting statements. For them, social media is a tool to express their narcissistic tendencies. It allows them to get attention from lots of ’friends’ rather than develop deep, more emotional connections.”

Naturally, the book has its own Web site: narcissismepidemic.com.

This article originally appeared in print as "Is Facebook Making Us Narcissists?".

To Probe Further

Narcissistic Personality Quiz: http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm

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