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The new narcissism

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 8:56 p.m.

Each generation tends to look down on the next. But scientific data show alarming narcissism among today's college students — and it's their elders who largely are responsible for their self-infatuation.

Newly analyzing data from the American Freshman Survey — in which students have rated how they compare to peers since 1966 —psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues found “a dramatic rise” over the last four decades in the number who rate themselves “above average” in academic and math ability, drive to achieve and self-confidence, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

Much more likely to rate themselves as gifted writers, their writing test scores nevertheless fall far short of those of 1960s students.

Only about a third study for six or more hours a week, down from almost half in the late 1980s.

And what Ms. Twenge calls their “ambition inflation” — surely fed by “grade inflation” — fuels increasingly unrealistic expectations, which set many up to selfishly damage personal and work relationships and fall short of their goals.

Their entitled mindset has been instilled by today's parents and educators, who've created a culture that prizes self-esteem. It dumbs down academics and hands out ego-inflating “participation” awards at the expense of success fundamentals such as critical-thinking skills and hard work.

Today's coddled collegians are the predictable result of standards-bereft parents and educators who disregard objective merit and insulate students against one of life's best teachers — failure.

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