I recently read about the results of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) -- a nationwide survey of 16,475 college students conducted between 1982 and 2006. In a nutshell, the survey revealed that the narcissistic attitudes of our youth have risen steadily over the past 25 years. In its latest iteration, two-thirds of the students demonstrated above average narcissism -- up more that 30% since 1982.Reading this reminded me of another survey conducted during the 1990s wherein a research group studying the state of American education released a report comparing the math scores of U.S. and Japanese high school students. The results were not surprising. The Japanese students scored significantly higher than their American counterparts on an equivalent test. But what was notable was the response to a question asked of both groups of students right after they had finished taking the test but before they had seen the results. The Japanese students overwhelmingly expressed dejection and embarrassment for what they considered to be a poor performance on the test. The American students were confident they had aced it.
On hearing the reports of this study, one well-known critic of the public school system in America remarked, “I think its safe to say we’ve done a good job of addressing any worries we might have had about our children’s self esteem.”Where did these narcissistic tendencies originate -- and why?