The narcissism epidemic is dead: Long live the narcissism epidemic

Eunike Wetzel*, Anna Brown, Patrick Hill, J.M.H. Chung, R.W. Robins, B.W. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
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Are recent cohorts of college students more narcissistic than their predecessors? To address debates about the so-called “narcissism epidemic,” we used data from three cohorts of students (N1990s = 1,166; N2000s = 33,647; N2010s = 25,412) to test whether narcissism levels (overall and specific facets) have increased across generations. We also tested whether our measure, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), showed measurement equivalence
across the three cohorts, a critical analysis that had been overlooked in prior research. We found that several NPI items were not equivalent across cohorts. Models accounting for non-equivalence of these items indicated a small decline in overall narcissism levels from the 1990s to the 2010s (d =−0.27). At the facet-level, leadership (d =−0.20), vanity (d = –0.16), and entitlement (d = –0.28) all showed decreases. Our results contradict the claim that recent cohorts of college students are more narcissistic than earlier generations of college students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1833-1847
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • narcissism
  • Narcissistic Personality Inventory
  • cohort differences
  • generational changes
  • measurement invariance


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