Egos inflating over time: a cross-temporal meta-analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory

J Pers. 2008 Jul;76(4):875-902; discussion 903-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00507.x. Epub 2008 May 23.


A cross-temporal meta-analysis found that narcissism levels have risen over the generations in 85 samples of American college students who completed the 40-item forced-choice Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) between 1979 and 2006 (total n=16,475). Mean narcissism scores were significantly correlated with year of data collection when weighted by sample size (beta=.53, p<.001). Since 1982, NPI scores have increased 0.33 standard deviation. Thus, almost two-thirds of recent college students are above the mean 1979-1985 narcissism score, a 30% increase. The results complement previous studies finding increases in other individualistic traits such as assertiveness, agency, self-esteem, and extraversion.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ego*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Narcissism*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Concept*
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United States