A highly publicized Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study depicts Millennials as more egoistic than Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. The research is flawed. The psychologists fail to see that kids today face new problems that previously weren’t imaginable and are responding to them in ways that older generations misunderstand.
The psychological study seems persuasive largely because the conclusions are supported by massive data. Investigators examined two nationally representative databases ( Monitoring the Future and American Freshman surveys) containing information provided by 9.2 million high school and college students between 1966 and 2009.
Such far-reaching longitudinal analysis seems to offer a perfect snapshot of generational attitudes on core civic issues.
(this essay was co-written with Thomas Seager and Jathan Sadowski)
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Evan Selinger is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Graduate Program Faculty Member in the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, both at Rochester Institute of Technology.