Boomers are more ‘hypersensitive’ than millennials, according to science
Despite what they’d have you believe, baby boomers are actually more sensitive than millennials, according to a new study.
This revelation comes from the longest-ever study on narcissism to date, which looked at how narcissistic behaviour changes over time and between different generations.
The research, published in the journal Psychology and Ageing, studied the behaviour of nearly 750 people between the ages of 13 and 77 and found that older generations are more sensitive overall.
“There’s a narrative in our culture that generations are getting more and more narcissistic, but no one has ever looked at it throughout generations or how it varies with age at the same time,” said William Chopik, co-author of the study and associate professor at Michigan State University (MSU).
Some of the qualities associated with narcissism – being full of yourself, sensitive to criticism and imposing your opinion on others – decline over time as we age, the findings show, while others like having high aspirations for yourself increase with age.
Narcissism levels varied by generational groups, with life events like getting a first job or going through a big breakup shown to reduce narcissism. But overall, older generations were found to be more sensitive, science said.
“There are things that happen in life that can shake people a little bit and force them to adapt their narcissistic qualities,” Chopik said. “As you age, you form new relationships, have new experiences, start a family and so on. All of these factors make someone realise that it’s not ‘all about them.’ And, the older you get, the more you think about the world that you may leave behind.”
On baby boomers being more sensitive than millennials, Chopik explained: “one of the most surprising findings was that – also contrary to what many people think – individuals who were born earlier in the century started off with higher levels of hyper-sensitivity, or the type of narcissism where people are full of themselves, as well as wilfulness, which is the tendency to impose opinions on others.”
“There isn’t much data on older generations, but now that Baby Boomers are ageing into that phase of life, it’s a huge part of the population that we need to be looking at.”
One reason for this, Chopik hypothesised according to the Independent, could be that baby boomers “may be more narcissistic than other generations because they grew up in a time when the government provided privileges like social security”.