If you think it's all about you, you are not alone.
A study led by Jean Twenge of San Diego State University says that college students are getting more narcissistic.
In an analysis of personality surveys given to U.S. college students during the past 25 years that asked for responses to statements such as "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place," Twenge and the other researchers concluded that there's been a moderate but significant generational change. In other words, young people today are somewhat more likely to be self-absorbed, attention-seeking and power-hungry.
"You notice it, but you don't know if you're just getting old and crotchety," said W. Keith Campbell at the University of Georgia, who was one of the researchers. "The data says there's some reality to that."
Twenge says cultural changes, particularly in parenting and pop psychology, could have encouraged the shift.
The study -- which has not been accepted by an academic journal -- questions well-known research done by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss that describes cycles of changes over generations. The students who began college in 2000, sometimes known as Millennials or Generation Y, have been described as responsible, civic-minded and more likely to volunteer.
Yesterday at George Washington University, some students agreed with that -- but many said these new data sounded right.
"People do volunteer," said Bayram Abbasov, a senior, "but they do it for a reason, not because they want to help someone else." He volunteered at a hospital when he was in high school, he said, because he wanted to get into a good college.
"It doesn't surprise me," said Anna Ford, a graduate student from Alabama. She says technology has changed things, "the increasing quickness with which we get what we want. Nobody expects to have to wait for anything."
Narcissism has its downsides, but it does seem to predict happiness, Campbell said. "If you think you're good-looking, think you're smarter than other people, think good things will happen to you -- you're doing pretty good."
-- Susan Kinzie