“Kids today…” has been a phrase muttered with exasperation by older folks discussing up and coming adults for generations. New research indicates that the current generation of younger adults may be more deserving of their elders’ disdain than any before.
A study published by Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin indicates that recent high school graduates place a higher value on material wealth but are less willing to work hard than previous generations.
Analyzing data from “Monitoring the Future”, a survey that has tracked youth trends since 1976, researchers Jean M. Twenge and Tim Kasser suggest that today’s youth are largely representative of entitlement culture.
“Compared to previous generations, recent high school graduates are more likely to want lots of money and nice things, but less likely to say they’re willing to work hard to earn them,” said Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor and author of the book Generation Me.
“That type of ‘fantasy gap’ is consistent with other studies showing a generational increase in narcissism and entitlement,” Twenge said.
Compared to students of the same age surveyed in the 1970s, 62 percent of recent graduates believe it’s important to have a lot of money, while just 48 percent had the same belief in 1976-78. Likewise, 69 percent of recent high school graduates thought it was important to own a home, compared to just 55 percent in the 1970s.
While seeking financial success and home ownership is a popular idea among today’s youth, working in order to do so isn’t. Thirty-nine percent of recent graduates surveyed admitted they didn’t want to work hard, compared to only 25 percent in 1976-78.
“This suggests that advertising may play a crucial role in the development of youth materialism,” said Twenge. “It also might explain the gap between materialism and the work ethic, as advertising rarely shows the work necessary to earn the money necessary to pay for the advertised products.”