Generation Snowflake really are more flaky than older people – but don’t tell them, they’ll get upset.
Young adults become ‘distressed’ by labels of entitlement and narcissism, suggests new academic research.
They get upset if they’re labelled more self-centred or oversensitive than older people, according to the study.
Generation Snowflake really are more flaky than older people – but don’t tell them, they’ll get upset. Young adults become ‘distressed’ by labels of entitlement and narcissism, suggests new academic research (stock image)
All age groups – including millennials and Generation Z themselves – believe that they are the most narcissistic and entitled, suggest the findings.
But researchers say that millennials and Generation Z dislike the ‘snowflake’ characterisation, and believe it less than older generations do.
The findings show that teenagers and young adults both ‘believe and react negatively’ to messages that members of their age group are more entitled and narcissistic than other living generations.
The research team said that academic reports and popular literature have contributed to the ‘widespread’ idea that emerging adults – people transitioning from adolescence to adulthood – are more entitled and narcissistic than other age groups.
Whether such labels are accurate is extensively debated among academics, but few have examined how young people react to the labels.
To try and find out, researchers at Bowling Green State University in Ohio conducted three studies.
Participants in the first study included more than 1,000 university undergraduates and 724 people from a variety of age groups in an online crowdsourcing platform.
All of them completed standard measures of personality traits and surveys about relevant stereotypes and opinions.
The results of the first study suggest that emerging adults believe adolescents and members of their own age group are indeed ‘exceptionally’ narcissistic and entitled.
They feel that they are negative traits and they have negative reactions to the labels being applied to their age group, according to the findings.
All age groups – including millennials and Generation Z themselves – believe that they are the most narcissistic and entitled, suggest the findings. But older people don’t get upset by these labels (stock image)
The crowdsourcing results suggest that older adults’ views of the narcissism and entitlement of teenagers and emerging adults are more exaggerated than the actual views of emerging adults themselves.
In two additional studies, the researchers examined 218 and 376 university students’ reactions to excerpts of written materials describing people aged 18 to 25.
They found that the students reacted negatively to their age group being labelled as narcissistic and entitled, and they reacted with a similar degree of negativity to other ‘undesirable’ labels, such as oversensitivity.
While further studies are needed to confirm and refine the findings, the research team suggest that emerging adults are aware of and believe widespread messages labelling their age group as the most narcissistic and entitled – and that they are ‘somewhat distressed’ by the labels.
Study leader Dr Joshua Grubbs, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University, said: ‘All generations think that the youngest generations – millennials and Generation Z – are the most narcissistic and entitled generations.
‘However, millennials and Generation Z dislike this characterisation and believe it less than older generations do.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
HOW DO WE CATEGORISE GEN Z AND MILLENNIAL?
Coming of Age: 1998-2006
Age in 2017: 23 to 40
Product of change: Millennials came of age during a time of significant technological change, globalisation and economic disruption – giving them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents.
Digital natives: Exposure to technology since early childhood has led to technology-sophistication, resulting in a sense of immunity to most traditional marketing and sales pitches.
They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews.
That said, 60% of UK Millennials will engage with online content that interests them, even if it’s obvious that it’s been paid for by a brand.
Work-hard, play-hard attitude: Millennial’s are team-oriented, honest and enjoy building friendships with colleagues, but also want to have a life outside of work.
Naturally, most Millennials want to be at a company that appreciates this desire for balance and openness. They relish high levels of dual-direction feedback
Stability-anxiety: In spite of perceived across-the-board advantages of working as freelancers or consultants, nearly two-thirds of millennials said they prefer full-time employment.
Health-conscious: Millennial’s devote time and money to exercising and eating right.
Being physically and mentally healthy topped the list (77%) for UK Millennials when asked what would most help them live a happier, more fulfilled life.
Experience-economy: Over half of UK Millennials would rather spend money on an experience versus a possession (only 22.6% valued material goods over experiences).
Coming of Age: 2013-2020
Age in 2017: 5 to 22
Realists: Hyper-aware of tough economy, terrorism, and climate change etc., Generation Z are somewhat jaded, maybe even cynical.
Entrepreneurial: In the US, 72% of current high school students want to start a business.
Tech-addicted, mobile natives (rather than Millennial digital natives): If we thought Millennials were addicted to technology, get ready for more.
In some surveys, Generation Z put technology in the same category as air and water.
Second-opinion purchasers: Generation Z has strongly integrated online ratings and reviews into the fabric of their consumer decision-making, almost half say they always get input from friends and family before making a purchase.
This could be a generational statement about who Generation Z most trusts, or it could simply be related to their current life stage, it will be interesting to see if this changes as Generation Z gets older and accumulates more consumer experience.
Tolerant: Whether it be different cultures, sexual orientations, races or gender fluidity, Generation Z is the most accepting generation of diversity so far.
Social media preferences: Facebook has lost 25% of this demographic since 2011, whereas apps like Snapchat and Instagram have exploded in popularity.
Around 70% of Generation Z watches 2hrs+ of YouTube per day and less TV than any previous generation.