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Is Gen Y the Narcissistic Generation? Levels of Narcissism Among the Millennial Implication and the Cost on the Workforce

Autor:   •  January 9, 2019  •  2,622 Words (11 Pages)  •  81 Views

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The millennial generation or Gen Y is characterized as the most self-absorbed and narcissistic generation of history. The millennials are frequently depicted as having an excessive and unrealistic sense of self-worth, without the skills to back it up (Kelley, 2017). Although narcissism has occurred throughout history, the trait seems to have gained significant prominence in the late twentieth century ( Millon, Grossman, Millon, Meagher & Ramnath, 2004). Are the depictions of Gen Y as a self-obsessed generation accurate? Much research has focused on the cross-generational changes in the levels of narcissism. Research on College students indicates that Gen Y students have significantly higher levels of narcissism than previous cohorts (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). Supported by a cross-temporal meta-analysis of American College students between 1979-2006, which indicated an increase in narcissism ( NPI score; 1982= 15.2, 2006=17.29 (Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Keith Campbell & Bushman, 2008). Similar trends have been found in organizational settings, confirming that narcissism has increased over the past 25 years (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). Some research indicates the generational differences regarding narcissism among the Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial did not have a significant impact in the workplace (Fenzel, 2013). It is important to consider whether the changes in the level of narcissism is having an influence on society.

The relationship between narcissism and workplace performance has been studied. (Grijalva, Harms, Newman, Gaddis, & Fraley, 2015). The association narcissism and maladaptive behaviours indicates that narcissism is likely to have a detrimental effect on the workplace. The impact of narcissism is of importance because of the changing demographics of the workplace- the number of millennials is increasing, and the number of baby boomers is decreasing (Spears, 2015). Thus, there are significant outcomes associated with the Gen Y entering the workforce, for businesses. (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). Narcissistic individuals have high and sometimes unrealistic expectations. Hence, they are known as the generation that wants it all (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). They expect to have more successful careers regarding finding a job, income, and promotions (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). Narcissists have unrealistic expectations of their capabilities. They feel confident; however, this is not due to their capacities ( Campbell, Goodie & Foster, 2004). Hence, narcissistic are likely to underperform, which reflects both their overconfidence and eagerness to make risky decisions ( Campbell, Goodie & Foster, 2004). Within the workplace, narcissists are more likely to engage in Counterproductive work behaviours (CWBs). CWBs are behaviours that are intended to harm organizations and organizational members such as behaving aggressively towards other employees ( Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). This establishes a clear pattern that narcissistic behaviour is damaging for the work environment.

Narcissism is also of relevance to leaders within the organizations (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). The millennial generation will become the leaders of the workforce. There are similarities between characteristics of narcissists and those commonly associated with leaders; a range of the most influential people are suggested to fit the narcissistic profile (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). There is research to indicate that narcissism can be both a curse and blessing for leaders (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). The reinforcement model outlines that narcissism is a beneficial trait in the short term. However, it is detrimental in the long term (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). Thus, narcissistic leaders are effective new leaders, capable of changing environments in chaotic positions; however, they do not offer long-term stability which is essential for most working environments. I have considered one potential consequence of narcissism on society; the implications of the narcissism are much broader and should be considered.

Given the implications of maladaptive behaviours narcissism in organizational settings, it is important to consider the factors that are leading to the development of narcissism and reinforcing narcissistic behaviours. The generational changes in narcissism are likely to reflect the cultural and societal changes experienced by Gen Y (Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell & Marchisio, 2011). Changes in parental attitudes and styles may promote more narcissistic tendencies (Bradley, 2016). Current trends encourage parents to raise their children and consider their child to be exceptional; this may be leading to an inflated sense of self ( Twenge, 2014). Parental practices which overindulge children result in an increased expectation of admiration ( Millon, Grossman, Millon, Meagher & Ramnath, 2004). However, parents who are disengaged from their children may also be promoting narcissism. Insecure relationship styles such as preoccupied and avoidant may also promote narcissism ( Bradely, 2016). Thus, it is important to establish a healthy parent-child relationship, which encourages realistic ideals within the children. Twenge ( 2014) argues that practices such as telling your children they can be anything they want encourages an unrealistic sense of self. Instead, society should be focusing on promoting values, such as hard work. In addition to parenting, societal conditioning which encourages competition, materialistic values and the importance of money tends to reinforce narcissism. For example, within the educational system; courses which priorities these values are more likely to have students with higher levels of narcissism. These types of courses may be attracting more narcissistic students, or they may be reinforcing narcissistic values. For example, research indicated that narcissistic attributes such as materialistic values and money importance tend to be more pronounced in business students ( Vansteenkiste, Duriez, Simons, & Soenens, 2006). Other studies have confirmed higher levels of narcissism among business students (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). This is problematic because business students were also subject to more negative moods, including anger and depression which is likely to be related to narcissism (Westerman, Bergman, Bergman & Daly, 2011). Therefore, is it important to discourage narcissism within an educational setting, and consider that narcissists are more likely to choose career paths which encourage their behaviours.

Broader social practices, such as the use of social media are also likely to influence


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