After analyzing 40 years of data on approximately 9 million young adults, researchers have found the so-called Millennial generation to be less environmentally conscious, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations were at the same age, according to a new study.
Compared to baby boomers and GenX'ers when they were young adults, Americans belonging to the Millennial generation -- those born after 1982 -- consider money, image and fame more important than values like self-acceptance and being part of a community, according to the study published March 5 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study found that millennials were less interested in donating to charities, participating in politics or helping the environment. The results support the so-called "Generation Me" theory over the "Generation We" description often used in reference to today's young people.
"These data suggest that the 'Me Generation' label affixed to the baby boomers was unwarranted. In comparison to the proceeding generations, the boomers look significantly more selfless," lead researcher Jean Twenge said in a press release. "It will be interesting to see how millennials are affected by the recent recession and whether future generations will reverse the trends."
Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who has argued extensively in favor of the "Generation Me" theory, told USA Today that her latest study is not intended to criticize the Millennial generation, but rather reflect cultural changes of which young people are some of the strongest indicators.
Proponents of the "Generation We" theory have criticized the study, arguing that it "focuses on attitudes rather than on behavior" and places judgment on certain sets of values.
"Saying you want to be well off doesn't necessarily make one a narcissist or mean that you don't want to help others or don't care for your community," political scientist Michael Hais told USA Today. "It doesn't say that's the only value they have."
Read the full study here and check out the PBS Newshour video report on the Millennial generation below:
Flickr photo by MoneyBlogNewz.