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College Students Are High Achievers in Narcissism

According to a new comprehensive study by five psychologists, today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors.

From 1982 to 2006, 16,475 college students completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). The standard inventory asks for rated responses to such statements as, "If I ruled the world it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person," and "I can live my life the way I want to." The nationwide results were quite telling.

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's leading author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

The study asserts narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors."

The researchers traced the phenomenon back to the self-esteem movement that emerged in the 1980s. They contest the effort to build self-confidence has gone too far. As an example, Twenge cited the lyrics of a song commonly sung to the tune of "Frère Jacques" in preschools: "I am special, I am special; Look at me, look at me."

"Current technology fuels the increase in narcissism," Twenge adds. "By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube."

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