The Narcissism Epidemic Is Dead; Long Live the Narcissism Epidemic

Eunike Wetzel, Anna Brown, Patrick L. Hill, Joanne M. Chung, Richard W. Robins, Brent W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Are recent cohorts of college students more narcissistic than their predecessors? To address debates about the so-called “narcissism epidemic,” we used data from three cohorts of students (1990s: N = 1,166; 2000s: N = 33,647; 2010s: N = 25,412) to test whether narcissism levels (overall and specific facets) have increased across generations. We also tested whether our measure, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), showed measurement equivalence across the three cohorts, a critical analysis that had been overlooked in prior research. We found that several NPI items were not equivalent across cohorts. Models accounting for nonequivalence of these items indicated a small decline in overall narcissism levels from the 1990s to the 2010s (d = −0.27). At the facet level, leadership (d = −0.20), vanity (d = −0.16), and entitlement (d = −0.28) all showed decreases. Our results contradict the claim that recent cohorts of college students are more narcissistic than earlier generations of college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1833-1847
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Narcissistic Personality Inventory
  • cohort differences
  • generational changes
  • measurement invariance
  • narcissism
  • open data
  • preregistered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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