Both academic and popular literatures have repeatedly contended that emerging adults are the most narcissistic and entitled age-group in modern times. Although this contention is fiercely debated, the message that emerging adults are narcissistic and entitled has saturated popular culture. Despite this saturation, relatively little empirical work has examined how emerging adults might react to such labels. Across three studies in five samples in the U.S., the present work sought to address this deficit in research. Results from cross-sectional samples of university students at two universities, as well as an online convenience sample of web-using adults (Study 1), indicated that emerging adults believe their age-group and the one following them (e.g., adolescents) to be the most narcissistic and entitled age-groups, that they have generally negative opinions of narcissism and entitlement, and that they respond negatively to being labeled as narcissistic and entitled. Additionally, results from adult web-users revealed that, while all age groups tend to view adolescents and emerging adults as more narcissistic and entitled than older age-groups, these opinions are more exaggerated among members of older age-groups. Finally, across two experimental studies (Studies 2 & 3), results indicated that emerging adults react negatively to labeling of their age-group as narcissistic and entitled, but no more negatively than they do to potentially related undesirable labels (e.g., oversensitive). Collectively, these results indicate that emerging adults are aware of and somewhat distressed by messaging that casts their age-group as the most narcissistic and entitled age-group ever.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Grubbs, Joshua B.; Exline, Julie J.; McCain, Jessica; Campbell, W. Keith; and Twenge, Jean M., "Emerging Adult Reactions to Labeling Regarding Age-group Differences in Narcissism and Entitlement" (2019). Psychology Faculty Publications. 46.