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The Narcissistic Millennial Generation: A Study of Personality Traits and Online Behavior on Facebook

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The aim of the present study was to investigate differences between late (born: 1991–2000) and early (born: 1977–1990) Millennials regarding the personality traits narcissism, sensation seeking, self-esteem, and Facebook use. Furthermore, we investigated the relationship between personality traits and Facebook use, in both groups. Data of 254 Millennial Facebook users were collected. Results of regression discontinuity analyses including age as covariate indicate that late Millennials on average score significantly higher on narcissism, sensation seeking, self-presentation, and social interaction on Facebook than early Millennials. These cohort effects occur beyond age effects. In both groups, narcissism, sensation seeking, self-esteem, and online behavior were positively related. Interpretation of the results focuses on technological innovation and cultural change which affect the development of early and late Millennials differently. It is concluded that late and early Millennials differ substantially regarding personality traits and online behavior.
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Vol.:(0123456789)
1 3
Journal of Adult Development (2020) 27:23–35
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-018-9321-1
The Narcissistic Millennial Generation: AStudy ofPersonality Traits
andOnline Behavior onFacebook
JuliaBrailovskaia1 · Hans‑WernerBierho2
Published online: 23 November 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to investigate differences between late (born: 1991–2000) and early (born: 1977–1990)
Millennials regarding the personality traits narcissism, sensation seeking, self-esteem, and Facebook use. Furthermore, we
investigated the relationship between personality traits and Facebook use, in both groups. Data of 254 Millennial Facebook
users were collected. Results of regression discontinuity analyses including age as covariate indicate that late Millennials on
average score significantly higher on narcissism, sensation seeking, self-presentation, and social interaction on Facebook than
early Millennials. These cohort effects occur beyond age effects. In both groups, narcissism, sensation seeking, self-esteem,
and online behavior were positively related. Interpretation of the results focuses on technological innovation and cultural
change which affect the development of early and late Millennials differently. It is concluded that late and early Millennials
differ substantially regarding personality traits and online behavior.
Keywords Millennials· Facebook use· Narcissism· Sensation seeking· Self-esteem
In the twenty-first century, Internet use and digital com-
munication are part of everyday life worldwide. People of
different ages spend extensive lengths of time connecting
and interacting with each other on Web 2.0 (Kujath 2011).
Recent research shows that the online behavior of the Mil-
lennial Generation differs considerably from older genera-
tions (Djamasbi etal. 2010; Hayes etal. 2015; Windisch and
Medman 2008).
Millennials, who are also called Net Generation or Gener-
ation Y, are the last born generation of the twentieth century
(born: 1977/80–2000; Tapscott 2009). Howe and Strauss
(2003) defined the members of this generation as special,
sheltered, confident, team oriented, conventional, pressured,
and achieving. In general, they are well educated, optimistic,
and tend to believe that they can achieve everything they
want. Parents, teachers, and others from their social network
support them in reaching their goals (Tapscott 2009).
However, besides this positive depiction, Twenge (2012;
see also Twenge and Campbell 2009) described Millenni-
als as entitled, self-centered, and narcissistic. In a cross-
temporal meta-analysis of narcissism investigating Ameri-
can college students, results indicate that their level of open
narcissism increased continuously across generations. As
a consequence, Generation Y reached the highest narcis-
sism scores compared with earlier generations (Twenge etal.
2008). In addition, personality traits related to narcissism
(e.g., extraversion, self-esteem) followed the same trend
(Campbell etal. 2002; Twenge 2001; Twenge and Camp-
bell 2001).
Furthermore, Millennials differ from other generations in
their communication pattern on modern social media includ-
ing Web 2.0 and social networking sites (SNSs). They tend
to be online very frequently on computer, laptop, tablet PC,
and smartphone (see Khang etal. 2013; Twenge and Camp-
bell 2009). The international platform Facebook belongs to
the most popular SNSs among Millennials (Kilburn 2011).
Many of them interact with their friends on Facebook daily
and make new contacts (Cabral 2011; Wilson etal. 2012).
Millennials use Facebook to provide insights into their eve-
ryday life (Moore and McElroy 2012).
* Julia Brailovskaia
Julia.Brailovskaia@rub.de
Hans-Werner Bierhoff
Hans.Bierhoff@rub.de
1 Mental Health Research andTreatment Center, Ruhr-
Universität Bochum, Massenbergstr. 9-13, 44787Bochum,
Germany
2 Department ofSocial Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum,
Universitätsstraße 150, 44801Bochum, Germany
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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