Baby Boomers Are More Sensitive Than Millennials, According To Science
The largest-ever study on narcissism determined that as a generation, baby-boomers are more sensitive than millennials.
Under the label of ‘millennial’, those born in the 1980s and early-to-mid 90s often get accused of complaining too much over ‘insignificant’ things or finding issue with situations older generations would have just ‘dealt with and moved on’.
The word ‘snowflake’ is often thrown around by boomers, implying younger generations are too fragile to cope when a bit of heat comes our way, but as it turns out, boomers are generally the more sensitive ones.
At least, that’s what a study published in Psychology and Aging determined, with researchers from Michigan State University having surveyed nearly 750 people in 2019.
In the study, researchers examined six previously collected data sets to get a better understanding of how narcissistic traits vary among generations and how levels of narcissism change as people age. They focused on hypersensitivity to help determine levels of defensiveness, one of the narcissistic traits studied alongside authoritativeness and stubbornness.
Participants comprised people between the ages of 13 and 77 who had completed interviews about their work, personality, and family lives. Psychologists and psychiatrists involved in the study then analysed the answers to place respondents on a scale from one to five, with five having the most narcissistic traits.
William Chopik, a social-personality psychologist at Michigan State and a co-author of the study, said they defined hypersensitivity as being unreceptive to others’ feedback and lashing out at any criticism toward one’s self, Insider Mag reports.
When looking at the results of the individual, the researchers found that people became less sensitive as they got older, with hypersensitivity seeing a sharp decline after a person turned 40. When it comes to generation-specific trends, however, the findings showed that overall, older generations were more sensitive than younger generations.
Chopik noted these patterns may be due to generation-specific events that shaped the participants’ outlooks on life, with baby boomers in the US, for example, perhaps being ‘more narcissistic than other generations because they grew up in a time when the government provided privileges like social security.’
The author noted the increase in narcissistic traits between boomers and younger generations is still relatively small, but stuck up for millennials as he said: ‘Based on our study, there’s weak evidence that this [younger] generation is the worst in human history.’
Chopik noted the researchers relied on existing data sets for the study, rather than following people of different generations throughout the years, and admitted the results could be skewed by the way the researchers chose to measure narcissism, which can be measured using various methods.
However, the study still goes some way into offering an insight to the belief that younger generations are more self-centred than older ones, and gives millennials some data to argue back with next time they face criticism from boomers.
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