Teenagers today show a greater desire for nice things than young people once did, but they don’t want to work hard for the money to buy such goods, new research suggests.
The findings, published last week in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, may resonate with adults who say that kids these days feel more entitled than those of the past.
“Compared to previous generations, recent high-school graduates are more likely to want lots of money and nice things but less likely to say they’re willing to work hard to earn them,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, in a statement. “That type of ‘fantasy gap’ is consistent with other studies showing a generational increase in narcissism and entitlement.”
Past studies by Twenge and her colleagues have shown a generational divide in the value of work: Younger generations value leisure time more than their elders.
Other research shows that millennials are more cynical and wary of institutions, but they are not more self-centered and they are just as happy.
The study drew its results from a national survey from 1976 to 2007 that asked 355,000 high school seniors about the value they placed on material wealth, as well as their willingness to work for it.
Just 48 percent of students polled from 1976 to 1978 said it was very important to have a lot of money, compared with 62 percent of those who were teenagers between 2005 and 2007.
More than two-thirds of students in the 2005-2007 group said it was very important to own a home, compared with just over half in the earliest years of the survey.
Yet their work ethic didn’t jibe with their emphasis on material wealth. About 39 percent of the more recent graduates said they didn’t want to work hard, compared with just 25 percent of the oldest cohort.
— Live Science