Centennial Honors College Western Illinois University Undergraduate Research Day 2014

Centennial Honors College
Western Illinois University
Undergraduate Research Day 2014
Poster Presentation
The Millennials: Does Narcissism Trump Social Justice?
Stephanie Jacobs
Faculty Mentor: David Lane
The current emerging generation, often referred to as the “millennials,” has set itself
apart from previous generations in a number of ways, most notably with a rise in levels
of narcissism and a decrease in political and social justice activities. The present study
hypothesized that even when other factors were taken into consideration, narcissism
would strongly account for this decrease, as narcissism is about self-importance and
doing things for one's own personal gain. Similarly, it was believed that those high in
narcissism would then pursue a “happy” life, where participation in activities is based
solely on the level of personal enjoyment, over a “meaningful” one that strives to do
things that matter to society. Data were collected using an online survey with 127
undergraduates aged 18 – 33 years old. Although no direct correlation between
narcissism and activism was found, many additional hypotheses were supported.
Specifically, the “millennial” generation does indeed have significantly increased levels
of narcissism compared to previous generations; narcissism is more significantly related
to happiness than meaningfulness; the decline of participation in social justice activities
is not related to an overall lack of free time or a lost faith in government; and higher
levels of narcissism are related to the pursuit of a “happy” life, which had no significant
relationship with activism. The results of this study provide an explanation for why
political involvement is down, as well as teaching us a little more about the dominant