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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sociologists, psychologists, and others in the social sciences generally agree that the nature of adulthood is different now from what it was 50 years ago. There is much less agreement, however, on what these changes mean for the psychological experience of emerging adults. There has been extensive discussion and debate in the academic literature and popular press about whether there have been generational changes in how young people view themselves and their place in society. This chapter explores the debate over the self-focused nature of emerging adulthood from a generational perspective, focusing on the construct of narcissism. The authors review past and current conceptualizations and measurements of narcissism, summarize the ongoing debate about the nature of young people today, discuss narcissism from a lifespan developmental perspective, and offer suggestions for future research. Throughout, the authors emphasize the historical context of narcissism and societal beliefs about young people more broadly and stress that a generational perspective must be considered alongside a developmental perspective (i.e., individual ontogenetic change) to provide a more nuanced understanding of emerging adulthood.

Keywords: emerging adulthood, narcissism, development, adulthood, personality

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