Monday, October 08, 2007

College Life

Vanity Or Self-Confidence: That Is The Question
By Glenn Burwell

College students and recent graduates believe that a new study of narcissism in college-aged students jumps to conclusions and makes some harsh generalizations.

The article, “Vanity On The Rise Among College Students,” published by the Associated Press, June 20, 2007, about a new study of vanity leaves students offended, some even outraged.

Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and her counterparts from various universities found in their study of narcissism that college-aged students steadily become more vain since the start of their research in 1982. The researchers fear that the rise in vanity among youth will be a detriment to relationships in American society.

Louis Marin, 25, a recent University of Florida graduate didn't agree with the article's generalization of college students. After reading it, Marin said, "It all seems incredibly questionable to me (the study). The questions they ask are leading and if you answer them one way you are diffident, and the other way are categorized as a narcissist."

Marin refers to questions like, " If I ruled the world it would be a better place," and "I can live life any way I want," taken from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey. Marin also asserted " Admittedly, I've only seen a bit of their research in reading the article, but still their assumptions lack merit."

Fashion Institute of Technology student, Molly Gunn, 20, didn't think the article was all wrong. " I think they're right about there being an increase in narcissism, just look around. People around my age are more self-obsessed than our parents ever were." Like other students, Gunn thought the problem with the article was that it didn't clearly differentiate between narcissism and self-confidence. Gunn concluded, " Yes we are a little into ourselves these days, but what is the problem with that? I am confident and I believe in everything that I do, call it what you will."

Caitlin Mager, 19, a Borough of Manhattan Community College student believed that what the researchers considered to be narcissism was simply a product of parenting. "People born into what is now considered the millennial generation, were raised in a time where parents were encouraged to preach self-worth and high-self esteem. I don't understand why people are trying to find negativity in building your children up. Maybe my relationships are short-lived. I am happy with who I am and I won’t settle for anything less than what I want," says Bryant. She said her mother was in an abusive marriage and she believes that the lack of coddling in her mother's generation led to a lack of self-worth, resulting in her staying in an abusive relationship.

Reasons for why students didn't like the article varied, but what was certain was that college-aged students disagreed with the generalizations made about their generation. Oddly enough, Prof. Twenge and her colleagues would likely attribute the fervent student's dismissal of their research evidence of youthful narcissism.

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