K-State students’ levels of vanity lower than national average

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Narcissism and self-centeredness are at an all-time high among college students, according to a study conducted by researchers at San Diego State University.

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at SDSU, conducted the research and had about 16,000 college students fill out a Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey between 1982 and 2006.

“Far from being civically oriented, young people born after 1982 are the most narcissistic generation in recent history,” Twenge said in an SDSU press release.

K-State Counseling Services director and licensed psychologist Fred Newton said he agreed with the findings though he had not conducted much research on the subject himself.

Newton said despite advances in technology and other advantages, students often arrive at college with high hopes but lacking preparation.

“If you compare college students today with those of 20 years ago, students’ expectations are higher, and they believe they’ll do better,” he said. “But as far as preparations go, they actually rate lower than they were back then.”

In accordance with Twenge’s research, Newton attributed Generation Y’s narcissistic tendencies to the culture surrounding it.

“Generation Y is sometimes referred to as the ‘trophy generation,'” Newton said. “So many times, kids are given trophies for basically nothing besides participating. Parents and the society around them have created the problem by overly recognizing people.”

Terri Delimont, senior in public heath nutrition, said she agreed parents, and society in general, are to blame for the rise in vanity among young people.

“I think kids are spoiled rotten,” she said. “When I was growing up, my parents didn’t overdo it, but it seems like today kids get everything they want. The focus is on the kids instead of on the family.”

However, Sheryl Benton, psychologist and assistant director of Counseling Services, said her experiences have shown narcissism is not typical of K-State students.

“What we do know is with K-State students, they’re far more likely to be depressed, have thoughts about suicide, or have anxiety about failure than to be narcissistic,” Benton said.

“They think they have to be the absolute best or else they’re a failure. It’s possible to be a perfectionist and have such high standards that you can never live up to them. That’s more of the problem we see here.”

Benton also said K-State students who have narcissistic tendencies usually are not extreme cases.

Most of the time, students focus on being happy and successful, and they are not particularly self-centered.

“Usually it’s within a normal range, and the narcissism doesn’t seem like it’s negative toward other people,” Benton said. “It’s just extreme self-confidence.”

Delimont said she did not think K-State students were as vain as typical college students across the country.

“I think the atmosphere here is very welcoming, and people are very caring,” she said. “There are vain people everywhere, but at K-State, I think things are different.”

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