Today’s youth becoming more self-centric

Youth views goals concerned with money,fame and image as more important,says study

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: March 16, 2012 2:06 pm

Today’s youth appear to be more “Generation Me” than “Generation We”,as a new study has found that these youngsters are more self-centric and money-minded than their previous generation peers.

The study by researchers at San Diego State University in the US found a decline over four decades in civic engagement and concern for others,alongside increases in such life goals as making a lot of money.

“The data analysed here suggest that the popular view of millennials — those born after 1982 — as more caring,community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations is largely incorrect,” said the research team,led by psychology professor Jean Twenge.

While the rate of volunteerism appears to have increased among younger people,the researchers said this is probably due to schools instituting volunteer service requirements.

Twenge,the author of “Generation Me”,and her colleagues were surprised to see that the desire to save the environment notably declined across the three generations studied – baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1961),Generation Xers (born between 1961 and 1981) and millennials,a media report said.

For example,while five per cent of boomers said they did not made personal effort to help the environment,the proportion among millennials was 15 per cent.

The researchers examined survey data collected since 1975 from high school seniors,as part of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future project,and,beginning in 1966,from college freshmen,as part of the American Freshman survey by the University of California,Los Angeles.

Data on life goals showed a shift away from those related to intrinsic values,like developing a meaningful philosophy of life,towards more extrinsic ones such as being well-off financially — over the three generations.

“Compared to boomers,millennials and Gen Xers viewed goals concerned with money,fame and image as more important,and goals concerned with self-acceptance,affiliation,and community as less important,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This shift may help to explain the generational increase in anxiety,depressive symptoms and poor mental health documented by other research,since an emphasis on extrinsic values over intrinsic ones has been linked with distress and declines in psychological well-being,he added.

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