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New research suggests younger Australians aren’t more self-centred

Media release

The self-esteem of Australians has remained stable for decades, calling into question the misconception that the younger generations are becoming more self-centred, new research has found.

In a paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the Curtin University-led research showed the self-esteem of Australian high school students, university students and the general public had not changed from 1978 to 2014.

Lead researcher Dr Takeshi Hamamura, from the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology at Curtin University, said the finding suggests the notion of younger generations becoming more self-centred may be incorrect in Australia.

“This research found that the self-esteem of Australians of all ages has been stable, and therefore not increased, between 1978 and 2014,” Dr Hamamura said.

“That means self-esteem levels have remained at the same levels across generations of Australians including high school students, university students, adults and the wider public.

“In the United States, the fact that self-esteem continues to increase among the population is used as evidence that Americans are becoming more self-centered.

“However, this research suggests that a similar trend is not evident in Australia. That means the suggestion that younger generations are becoming self-centred may be incorrect in Australia.”

The research involved a statistical analysis of all published data on self-esteem in Australia using a method known as temporal meta-analysis.

The paper Culture and self-esteem over time: A cross-temporal meta-analysis among Australians, 1978-2014 can be viewed here.