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Current Generation May Not Be Slackers

Current Generation May Not Be SlackersNew research contradicts earlier studies that classify the new generation of youth as being self-centered, antisocial and generally low-performing.

In a scientific analysis of nearly a half-million high school seniors spread over three decades, psychologists Brent Donnellan of Michigan State University and Kali Trzesniewski of the University of Western Ontario argue that teens today are no more egotistical — and just as happy and satisfied — as previous generations.

“We concluded that, more often than not, kids these days are about the same as they were back in the mid-1970s,” said Donnellan, associate professor of psychology.

The study appears in the research journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Donnellan acknowledges that many people will be surprised by the findings, which refute previous studies classifying today’s youth as selfish loafers with extremely high levels of self-esteem.

But while much previous research has relied on “convenience studies” of relatively small samples of young adults, Donnellan said, the current study analyzes the psychological profile data of 477,380 high school seniors from 1976 to 2006.

The data comes from the University of Michigan’s federally funded Monitoring the Future survey, which each year tracks the behaviors, attitudes and values of American students.

In other findings:

  • Today’s youth are more cynical and less trusting of institutions than previous generations. But Donnellan said this is generally true of the broader population.
  • The current generation is less fearful of social problems such as race relations, hunger, poverty and energy shortages.
  • Today’s youth have higher educational expectations.

Ultimately, Donnellan said, it’s common for older generations to paint youth in a negative light – as lazy and self-absorbed, for example – which can perpetuate stereotypes. It can be easy, he added, to forget what it’s like to grow up.

“Kids today are like they were 30 years ago – they’re trying to find their place in the world, they’re trying to carve out an identity, and it can be difficult,” Donnellan said.

“But lots of research shows that the stereotypes of all groups are much more overdrawn than the reality.”

Source: Michigan State University

Current Generation May Not Be Slackers

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Current Generation May Not Be Slackers. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/03/17/current-generation-may-not-be-slackers/12191.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.