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Extra Extra! Read All About Me!

In the age of groomed Facebook profiles and dreams of overnight celebrity via reality TV, this may not surprise you: researchers at San Diego State University have found that books published over the past few decades contain an increasing amount of narcissistic language.

Led by psychologist Jean Twenge, the researchers determined that “Individualistic words and phrases,” — such as “unique,” “personalize,” “self,” “all about me,” “I am special,” “I’m the best” — have increased in use between 1960 and 2008, even when controlling for changes in communal words and phrases.” It would seem from their findings that “language in American books has become increasingly focused on the self and uniqueness in the decades since 1960.”

What do you think? Is this a sign of an unhealthy culture of self-absorption or a healthy sign of increased self-esteem and identity?

Photograph courtesy of AstridWestvang on Flickr.

By: Mary Rose Somarriba

Mary Rose is the Executive Editor and Culture Editor for Verily Magazine with years of experience in magazine publishing. She has written articles and organized events on women’s issues for several publications and organizations. Among her favorite things in life are Latin dancing, karaoke, and a Basil Hayden manhattan on the rocks.


  1. As a high school English teacher, I’ve noticed that students are losing interest in books without a first person narrator. (Books like Twilight and The Hunger Games are told from the protagonist’s perspective.) With a few notable exceptions–To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn come to mind–books in the first person make it truly difficult to empathize with the book’s other characters. And, because young readers tend to choose books with protagonists like themselves, I strongly believe that the individualistic narration of what they read subtly makes them more self-centered as well.

  2. […] Verily Blog put up a post called “Extra! Extra! Read All About Me!” in its Culture section.  The post draws attention to the increasing use of narcissistic […]

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