Monday, April 19, 2010

So How Narcissistic Are You Anyway?

Jean TwengeI think it was John Rosemond who summed up parenting by saying it was a parent's job to spend the first two years of her child's life convincing him that he's the center of the universe then to spend the next 16 years convincing him that he's not.

I've loved that quote since the first time I read it and it fits perfectly with a fascinating article my father sent me from The Alaska Dispatch (by Josh Saul, April 14th) titled "Fighting an Epidemic of Narcissism." where Saul interviews Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, who came to Anchorage last week to talk about how the new generation of college students is much more narcissistic than their parents' generation.

Besides Rosemond's quote I also happen to love irony and the irony is flowing as Saul interviews Jennifer Husby, 23, a University of Alaska Anchorage student who is asked whether she agrees with Twenge's research.

She disagrees, saying that her classmates are just much busier and so focused on personal and financial success that they're already in the "keeping up with the Joneses phase."

"It's like I have so much going on that I don't have the time to focus on anything other than myself," Husby says. "Everything can seem narcissistic to a point because everything we do is to satisfy one of our own needs."

Is anyone else smiling out there? Because the last time I checked, that was the classic definition of narcissism. But then perhaps Ms. Husby was so focused on her "personal and financial success" that she failed to invest in a good dictionary. But I shouldn't be sarcastic, it's unbecoming I'm sure, and you should read the article for yourselves because not only does it give you something to think about, you can also take a quiz based on the test Twenge developed called the Narcisssism Personality Inventory (NPI) which in 40 questions tells you how narcissistic you are.

Some of the questions are obvious: "Do you like to look at yourself in the mirror?" but most are more intriguing, such as: "Do you depend on other people to get things done?" and "Do you find it easy to manipulate people?" I won't give out any spoilers but when you get your score (12-15 being average, 18 being Celebrity Status and 20 or above being a full-blown Narcissist Extraordinaire) it breaks it down into subcategories--personality traits that are components of narcissism that you may not have thought of as being narcissistic per se.

I took it and then had my husband take it and then when the kids saw what we were doing they wanted to take it too. So what was my score? Well, I'm embarrassed to say actually. And you can interpret that any way you want--maybe I'm embarrassed because my score says I'm so darn humble that it kind of negates the test if I broadcast it, maybe I'm embarrassed because I'm so completely average in my narcissistic tendencies or maybe I'm a megalomaniac in blogger's clothing. I'll let you decide, but take the quiz and see what you think then come back next week because I certainly have more to say on the subject.

Is it narcissistic of me to hope you will?

Photo from The Alaska Dispatch

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31 comments:

Robin said...

Okay, I did it (being newly unemployed I suddenly find myself with a lot more time on my hands LOL), but I'm not really sure what to make of it.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Well, I wasn't in the average range. And that's all I'm saying...

Patricia L said...

What a relief to know I'm not an exhibitionist. :) BTW, I LOVE John Rosemond.

Flea said...

Huh. I'm off to take the test. Our family's been talking a lot about self-absorption lately. Just discussed volunteering with the teen daughter last night, as a way to draw her out of the narcissistic hole. Thanks for the new tool!

Just Mom said...

My score suprised me. (You can interpret that any way you want.
;-D )

Very interesting article too. Thanks.

cndymkr / jean said...

Oh what the hell. I got a 4. Why does that not surprise me?

anonymous educator said...

I wonder what George Clooney would get.

And in fairness to the girl quoted in the article, I think what she might have meant "we" as in "all people," not "my generation." I think her point--certainly an arguable one--was that almost everyone is acting out of enlightened self-interest (even if it's just feeling good for doing good) and that you can portray that as narcissism if you want.

Maybe that's true, maybe not, but a different point is that her generation might be have little concern for others at all, regardless of ultimate motivation.

Kayris said...

I got a 12, which is average, and I scored high on the "authority" part. But I also wasn't sure how to answer some of the questions because they could go either way. For example, I'm fine when someone else is in charge, but I always do a good job when it's my turn to lead. And I have no preference either way, so I wasn't sure how to answer those questions.

And I'd much rather score high as an authoratative person that score high on the manipulation or exhibitionism parts!!!

Interesting quiz, and one thatraises a lot of questions. Such as: liking to be the center of attention. Does that mean you're confident and assured? Or a narccicist?

Kim said...

I've noticed in college classes that I've taken over recent years how differently young adults are starting to behave. When I was a full-time university student, most classes were respectful and listened to the professor, took notes, added to discussions, etc.

I've seen a definite increase in rude behavior, particularly in large group settings where young people seem to think they are not noticed as they text, listen to iPods, and sit in the back of the room talking with each other while the professor lectures. Basic courtesy seems to be lacking in the upbringing of some/many of today's children.

Staci said...

I scored a 10. What a very interesting quiz! Thanks for sharing.

Pieces said...

I scored a 4 but I don't if that is because I answered questions based on what I think I should be or what I want to be. And I agree that some of the questions I could have gone one way or the other.

Scribbit said...

Somehow Tongguu Momma I love you all the more for your honesty :)

Anonymous Educator. Yes, I agree that she was speaking in terms of man/womankind in that final sentence though it's hard to see how she could have meant anything but what it sounds like in the first two.

I had to cut this off as a short post because there's so much to say on the subject. I figure it'll keep till next week and give you something to talk about before I attempt anything.

And yes, Kayris, I agree that scoring high in the authority part is probably more comforting to me than the exhibitionist area. But then that's probably because that's exactly what I did :) It's so easy for me to make excuses for my own behavior I'm sure :)

As for the questions, I actually took the test twice. The first time I found them a little confusing because I could find myself saying yes to either side but then when I went through the test a second time I looked at each question in terms of "Which is truer of me if I'm being completely honest with myself?" And I scored higher. Surprise, surprise.

Tina (www.the-miles.org) said...

That was a very intersting quiz. I was an 11, but scored very high in the sub-catagory of Superiority ...which I don't agree with. I feel EVERY person is special and unique, so I answered that about myself. That doesn't mean I think I'm better then others, it just means I have a high regard for all humanity, right? (Or so I try to tell myself so I don't appear superior?)

Anonymous said...

Oy, I only got a 4, too. Some of those questions should of been worded differently, I think. But, it was interesting.

Fawn said...

Well, I scored 17, also fairly high in the authority area. Apparently "superiority" is also high, but I want to echo Tina's comment that we're all special. :) LOL Ah well, I'm a performer, so a LITTLE bit of narcissism is expected isn't it? I sure as heck realize that I still have a lot to learn from others who are better than me!

The Diaper Diaries said...

I'll own my 15. Very high on authority, but what can I say, I like to be in charge. And I had to be honest a few times and admit I like to be the center of attention. Just keepin' it real. Thankfully I was a zero with entitlement. That is the part of narcissism that I can't handle.

imadramamama said...

I got a 2? Does that mean I'm dead?

Anonymous said...

I scored pretty low, too. Love the topic!

Laurie

Elizabeth said...

I'm a 14 which was a relief. I think it's a worthwhile battle for me to lower my score. So much of it comes with age, experience and life don't you think? I enjoy your blog--but don't let that inflate your score:)

Inkling said...

I took the test, hearing in my head all the while the mom of a former student who once told me I'd ruined her son's life by resigning. She counted all the times a personal pronoun was used in my email to her, and I've been painfully self-conscious ever since whenever I write anything. How in the heck does one avoid using "I" anyway? I'm apparently still hopelessly stuck on myself. Ah, one day I'll learn to stop staring at my own nose and start doing a better job of noticing the world around me and those in it.

I'm thankful not to be an exhibitionist and a couple other things, but it appears work in the humility department needs to happen in a couple areas. I disagreed with only one observation of my character, and imagine it's because sometimes a question required choosing the lesser of two evils, instead of an answer that was truly fitting. It was also a challenge to know what definition they meant for some words (like "great" person - meaning powerful and mighty or meaning really decent and good).

Ah, the drive to be sanctified, changed, matured, grown-up - whatever you want to call it - never ends. =) Now, off to go figure out how Moses was known for being so humble and trying to discover if that trait could be cultivated a little better......let's just hope 10 plagues aren't involved. ;)

Alice Wills Gold said...

I'm afraid to take it..it seems like a lose/lose anyway. Yeah I'm not narcissistic, or oh no, I don't care about myself.

I think all bloggers are narcissistic. In fact I think that anyone who has facebook or twitter is narcissistic and isn't that everyone nowadays, no matter what generation?

Robin Sue said...

I love the quote in Julie and Julia, I can loosely quote it. "I'm a blogger, isn't it all about me me me?!" I scored sort pf low (12) because I am so self-centered I purposely humbled myself not to make others feel bad, which is so good of me, don't you think I am a good person for doing so? I did have to laugh about the student's disagreement to the statement- what are they teaching thses kids? I will be back to see your answer! Fun post and yes children are changing.

Stephanie said...

Michelle, you are the opposite of narcissistic. Truly. In fact, Nicole (the pixel boutique) and I recently discussed how humble + gracious you are...

Thank you being you - a thinker, a writer, an influencer.

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

Mike said...

Mine says to stop staring at the mirror.


Mike
http://somethingaboutparenting.typepad.com
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J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I clicked on it, but even with the first answer, I couldn't do it. Too much a sense of what do I think vs. what do others think. So I don't know.

I do think our kids are narcissistic, but I think that's somewhat appropriate at that age. I think a more interesting way to answer would be, "how did I think at 14...", and see how it goes from there. Be honest, everyone.

Debbie said...

I took the test but couldn't get a result without paying $40, which I won't do. I have to say I was pretty annoyed about not getting a result after spending the time to take the test. Did everyone else pay the fee?

Laurie said...

I didn't take the quiz. Too busy being narcisstic to take the time I guess. However this post reminded me of a statement by Kathie Lee Griffith a few days ago. (not my fav person, but good quote). She was being complimented by fellow media types that her kids were nice young adults, and she said part of their maturity comes from the fact that she and her husband let them know often that they are not the center of the universe.

CountessLaurie said...

Hmmm... I apparently scored pretty humble, but I would have called myself narcissistic. Well, yay for me ... I am humble (does that ruin it, right there?)

Jen said...

I Sure thought that my score would be higher! Interesting and eyeopening at the same time.

Scribbit said...

Debbie--not sure what happened there, it didn't ask for any money when I took it or any of the family either.

Wonder what you were seeing---

Nicole said...

I scored a 6. Power and attention in their purest form are of no interest to me, but I like to be liked and get my way (ask my hubby on that one. ;)). Very interesting poll...and what a commentary on our up and coming generation.