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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 249-253

Narcissism between generation X and generation Y (millennials) – A cross-sectional comparative study


Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission25-Oct-2021
Date of Decision07-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance30-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication31-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K Ganesh Kini
Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_129_21

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  Abstract 


Context: Narcissism has become a pejorative term in recent years. It may be developmentally appropriate, depending upon the phase of life cycle in which the person is. However, it can also be pathological in some people and is known as Narcissistic personality disorder. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder generally have a lack of empathy and have difficulty recognizing the desires, subjective experiences, and feelings of others. Despite this range of concerns, literature shows an average of <10 studies per year on narcissistic personality disorder. Hence, there is a need to study and compare narcissism between different generations. Aims: The objective of the study was to compare the levels of Narcissism between Generation X and the Generation Y (Millennials) and to determine if there is any association between Narcissism and usage of Social Media Networking sites. Settings and Design: This was a 4-month cross-sectional comparative study conducted online from April 2021 to July 2021. A Google Form was used to record the response from all the participants. Subjects and Methods: Two hundred and sixty-two participants were included in study after obtaining institutional ethical clearance. Among them, 96 were of generation X and 166 participants were of generation Y. Participants who were having the access to any type of social media networking sites were included in the study, if they fulfilled the operational definition of Generation X and Y. Narcissistic Personality Inventory-16 (NPI-16), a self assessment tool, was used to evaluate narcissism. The social media networking site usage measure was assessed based on number of social media networking site they are active on, time spent on social media networking site, frequency of status updates, number of friends or followers, and pictures of self or selfies uploaded by them in span of 1 month. Statistical Analysis: Independent student t-test, Chi-square test, and Pearson's correlation analysis were used for analyzing variables in the study. Results: Among enrolled participants, 51.1% were females and 48.1% were males. There was statistically significant difference in the mean NPI-16 score (P = 0.016) with the score being more in Generation X (3.92) than Generation Y (3.04). There was a positive correlation between NPI-16 score and number of the social media networking sites (r = 0.175, P = 0.005), Frequency of Status Updates in a week (r = 0.165, P = 0.007), Number of Friends/Followers (r = 0.140. P = 0.025), and Selfies uploaded in a month (r = 0.282, P < 0.001). Conclusion: There is a positive correlation between the levels of narcissism and the self reported Social Media Networking site use among the participants in the study. Furthermore, the levels of narcissism were higher among Generation X than Generation Y.

Keywords: Generation X, millennials, narcissism, social media networking sites


How to cite this article:
Suchak V, Kini K G, Kakunje A. Narcissism between generation X and generation Y (millennials) – A cross-sectional comparative study. Ann Indian Psychiatry 2022;6:249-53

How to cite this URL:
Suchak V, Kini K G, Kakunje A. Narcissism between generation X and generation Y (millennials) – A cross-sectional comparative study. Ann Indian Psychiatry [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 10];6:249-53. Available from: https://www.anip.co.in/text.asp?2022/6/3/249/360072




  Introduction Top


Narcissism has become a pejorative term in recent years. However, Kohut suggests that we all have self-esteem needs throughout our lives.[1] The level of our unmet needs varies across the lifespan. It may even be developmentally appropriate, depending upon the phase of life cycle in which the person is. However, it can also be pathological in some people and is known as Narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder is defined as, “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.” Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder generally have a lack of empathy and have difficulty recognizing the desires, subjective experiences, and feelings of others.[2] In certain personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, the intensity of the psychological distress decreases with age.[3] However, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder continue to experience significant psychological distress, even in their old age, as aging and death itself become a crisis,[4] contributing to an increased suicidal risk.[5] Persons with this disorder avoid treatment and this leads to poor relationships in their social life. Prevalence estimates for narcissistic personality disorder range upto 6.2% in community samples.[2]

In recent years, it has been suggested that younger people are more narcissistic than the previous generations, suggesting a generational rather than developmental effect. Recent research supports the often-made assertion that the Millennial generation (Generation Y) is more narcissistic than previous generations.[6] This increase in narcissism has occurred alongside the increasing usage of social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, which have now amassed over 2.7 billion monthly active users among them.[7] SNS appears to be particularly popular, with over 68% of Americans reporting as Facebook users, among which, about three-quarters accessing Facebook on a daily basis (”Social Media Use 2018”)[8]. As per the statistics provided by the Indian Government, there are about 410 Million Facebook users and 210 million Instagram users in India as of 2021.[9] This idea that Millennials are more narcissistic than previous generations has trickled down from academia into mainstream news media. TIME magazine declared on their cover page that, Millennials are “lazy” and “entitled narcissists.”[10] March and McBean have found a presence of positive association between the SNS usage and narcissism, which raises the question whether comparison of intergenerational narcissism will yield different results, considering all the facts combined.[11] In a study done on undergraduate students, the findings indicated that grandiose narcissism was associated with taking and posting more selfies, experiencing more positive affect when taking selfies, and self-reported self-presentation motives.[12] Another study found a significant relation between vulnerable narcissism with physical appearance of selfies.[13] Despite this range of concerns, the literature shows an average of <10 studies per year on new product development, few empirical studies on prevalence and treatment.

Most studies have restricted samples to include only college students or follow one generation of individuals over a short period of time, whereas there is a need to study and compare narcissism between different generations.

In our study, we aimed to compare the levels of Narcissism between Generation X and the Generation Y (Millennial) and to determine if there is any association between Narcissism and usage of Social Media Networking sites.


  Subjects and Methods Top


This cross-sectional study was carried out after obtaining the clearance from Institutional Ethics Committee (YEC2/765) from April 2021 to July 2021. Considering the data from previous study done by Bergman et al.,[14] and keeping power of the study at 80% and at 10% level of significance, the sample size recommended for the present study using G * power software, the sample size of 241 participants was obtained. However, 262 participants were included in study. Nonprobability snowball sampling technique was used to collect the sample.

Participants having access to any type of social media networking sites were included in the study if they fulfilled the operational definition of Generation X and Y.

Operational definitions

  • Generation X-Those born between January 1965 and December 1980, i.e., who are currently between the ages of 41–55 years
  • Generation Y-Those born between January 1981 and December 1996, i.e., who are currently between the ages of 25–40 years.


Those who were not having the access to social media networking sites were excluded from the present study.

A Google form was used to record the responses from all the participants. Narcissistic Personality Inventory-16 (NPI-16), a self assessment tool, was used to evaluate narcissism. It is a short measure of subclinical narcissism. It has shown meaningful face, internal, discriminant, and predictive validity. It draws its items from Raskin and Terry's NPI-40.[15] The permission to use the tool was obtained from the authors of NPI-16.

The following determinants of SNS usage measures were assessed:

  • Number of social media site they are active on
  • Time spent on social media
  • Frequency of status updates
  • Number of friends or followers
  • Pictures of self or selfies uploaded by them in span of 1 month.


The data were analyzed using (IBM Corp. Released 2012. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21.0. Armonk, NY, US : IBM Corp). The mean difference between the continuous variables of two groups was analyzed using independent student t-test and difference between the categorical variables was analyzed by Chi-square test. The mean score between the two groups was analyzed using Student t-test. The strength of association (correlation) between the social media usage and the narcissistic score was analyzed using Pearson's correlation. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


A total of 262 participants were included in present study that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Among them, 96 were of Generation X and 166 participants were of generation Y. Among enrolled participants, 51.1% were females and 48.1% were males [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic details of the participants

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During correlation analysis between SNS use determinants and NPI-16 scores, it was found that there was positive correlation between NPI-16 scores and SNS usage (number of social media networking sites, frequency of status updates, number of friends or followers, and selfies uploaded in a month) [Table 2].
Table 2: Pearson's correlation analysis between the social networking sites usage with narcissistic personality inventory-16 score

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Looking at the intergenerational SNS use, it was found that Generation X used SNS more as compared to Generation Y for the following determinants: frequency of status updates (in a week), number of friends or followers, selfies uploaded (in a month). The rate of posting selfies is statistically higher amongst Generation X than Generation Y [Table 3].
Table 3: Social networking sites use between the two generations

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On comparing intergenerational mean NPI-16 scores, it was found that Generation X scored more than Generation Y, which was statistically significant [Table 4].
Table 4: Narcissistic personality inventory-16 scores between the two generations

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Some of the independent variables (like education status, marital status, etc.,) are highly crrelated with the “Year of birth” column. After removing all the correlated columns, we get the below result for regression analysis [Table 5].
Table 5: Regression analysis

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From the above model, it is evident that NPI-16 score and year of birth are significantly associated [Table 5].

This regression analysis suggests that for every unit change in selfies uploaded in a month, there was a change in NPI-16 score by 0.215 and this association is statistically significant [Table 6].
Table 6: Regression analysis

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  Discussion Top


A total of 262 participants were included in present study. 63.4% of the participants were from Generation Y. The variance seen between the generations, who responded to the study, may be due to the snowball sampling technique that was utilized. The gender distribution was almost equal, i.e., in our study, there were 134 female participants (51.1%) versus 126 male participants (48.1%). Most of the study participants were graduates (48.1%), followed by postgraduates (46.2%), and only 0.8% had primary school level (0.4%) and high school level education (0.4%). The reason for this, perhaps, could be due to the fact that participating in an online survey such as ours needs some degree of higher education. Most of the research in this field examining SNS usage and narcissism has been predominantly conducted on university students. However, in our study, there were people from various fields including professionals, contributing to 52.7% of total sample, whereas students constituted only 23.7% of the study population.

Pearson's correlation analysis between the 4 SNS determinants and NPI-16 scores showed the r-value to be between 0.1 and 0.3 which indicates that there is a weak, yet statistically significant positive linear association between SNS use and levels of narcissism. Regression analysis also suggests that for every unit change in selfies uploaded in a month, there was a change in NPI-16 score by 0.215 and this association is statistically significant. Social media appears to present an excellent chance for the narcissistic individual to demonstrate vanity, self-promote, control his/her public image, and obtain praise and attention. Similar to our study, March and McBean have found a presence of positive association between the SNS usage and narcissism.[11]

In general, it is believed that older generations have adopted, to newer social media technology, lesser than the younger generations.[16] However, in our study, we found that number of selfies (in a month) posted on SNSs were higher among Generation X than Generation Y, which was statistically significant. However, there was no statistically significant difference between Generation X and Generation Y with respect to number of SNS currently on, time spent on SNS, frequency of status updates, and number of friends/followers on their SNS. The mean number of status updates and number of friends/followers on SNS were, however, more in Generation X than Generation Y though it was not statistically significant. The reason, perhaps, why people from Generation X were posting more selfies might be because, taking selfies is seen by older population as a fun activity, and the older generation, perhaps, seem to be less concerned/less aware about the privacy issues and identity theft as compared to the younger generation. In one of the recent studies,[17] researchers reported that greater the number of SNS use by individuals stronger was the association with psychological enhancement, i.e., it meets their self esteem needs. This could be the reason why people might get addicted to SNS use. Surprisingly, in stark contrast to an earlier study,[6] which suggested the Millennial generation to be more narcissistic than the previous generations, our study demonstrated that Generation X had higher NPI-16 scores than Generation Y. Even in regression analysis, it was evident that NPI-16 Score and Year of Birth are inversely associated which was statistically significant. Generation X respondents would “insist upon getting respect that is due,” “were very sure of what they were doing,” felt that “people always seem to recognize their authority” and that “everybody liked to hear their stories,” Wetzel et al. declared that the “narcissism epidemic” is dead and wonder whether there existed an epidemic in the first place.[18] In this study, they compared different cohorts of undergraduates from 1990 to 2010 and they found that the levels of narcissism have been in decline and these findings are in agreement with our study. American psychologist Jean Twenge who is the author of the book Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever Before claimed that there is a spread of narcissism in the society and that it was making people more entitled and miserable than ever before and causing catastrophic events at every level of society.[19] However, commentators have identified several methodological and conceptual issues that they believe undermine the claim that there has been a increase in narcissism over the past several decades.[20] Another study concluded that there is little evidence of increase in narcissism in their datasets[21] In our study, Generation X used SNS more than Generation Y with respect to selfies posted, number of followers, and number of status updates. This, perhaps, explains why mean NPI-16 score is more in Generation X than Generation Y in our study. In another study,[22] it was reported that lower self-esteem and narcissism were associated with higher scores on the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale. These findings support the notion that social media use reflects narcissistic personality traits and an attempt to inhibit a negative self-evaluation. Perhaps, there are other distal causative factors like attachment issues caused by early childhood experiences which may be predisposing individuals to develop higher levels of SNS usage[23] and higher levels of narcissism.[24] These factors need to be explored in future studies.

Our study is one of the first Indian studies exploring the relationship between narcissism and social media networking site usage. Furthermore, our study explores narcissism across generations, unlike studies from other parts of the world where only one group of individuals, usually college students, were evaluated. Furthermore, we had a sufficiently large sample size. However, in our study, we utilized a snowball sampling technique which is a nonprobability sampling technique. Furthermore, self-rated tools, like NPI-16, were utilized for assessing narcissism instead of face-to-face clinical interview by trained mental health professionals. Self-reported SNS usage was collected. All the above factors can lead to various kinds of bias, like selection bias and recall bias.


  Conclusion Top


There is a positive correlation between the levels of narcissism and the self reported SNS use among the participants in the study. Furthermore, the levels of narcissism were higher among Generation X than Generation Y.

Acknowledgment

We thank the authors of the NPI-16 scale for granting us the permission to use their tool in our study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]



 

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