Baby Boomers take note: the stereotype about selfie-snapping, smashed avocado-bingeing millennials has just been, well, smashed.

A new study finds nothing to suggest millennials feel any more entitled than previous generations did at the same age.

The research, led by Sam Stronge from the University of Auckland's School of
Psychology, drew on data from the National Attitudes and Values Survey, a huge longitudinal programme tracking the views of more than 10,000 Kiwis.

Earlier work by Stronge found that, while New Zealanders generally had healthy levels of self-esteem, just one in 10 of us had traits that could be considered narcissistic.


In the new study, the doctoral researcher tested "psychological entitlement", or the sense that one was entitled to more than other people, as a measure of narcissism.

Entitlement is a key indicator of narcissistic behaviour because it is considered "socially toxic", and associated with emotional instability, disagreeableness, selfishness and aggression.

Her findings showed no evidence that New Zealanders were more narcissistic than they used to be - or that younger generations feel any more entitled that previous generations did at the same age.

But she emphasised that the data was only a "first look" and should be treated with caution.

"The NZAVS has only been going six years so far, so we could only track changes over five years of data and we know that psychosocial changes happen slowly and over longer periods of time," she said.

"What we have done in this study is come up with some initial findings and what we're looking forward to is building on these to track changes in narcissism over time."

While the study found no big rise in a sense of entitlement by younger people - including the so-called millennial generation, or those born between 1982 and 2002 - it did find a slight increase in entitlement for people aged 65 years and over, particularly women.

Women aged 64 years showed higher levels of entitlement than women aged 64 did five years ago, as did men aged 64 and 69 years old.


"There could be a simple explanation for this, which aligns with international research, and that is what we call the 'la dolce vita' effect, retired people feeling they have worked hard and now deserve to reap the benefits of that."

The study also generally mirrored the findings of international research which theorises that our sense of entitlement naturally decreased over time as we age.

"When older generations look at younger generations and judge them to be more narcissistic, they may well be right - but only at their current age."

The study also looked at gender differences in regard to a sense of entitlement.

"Looking at gender differences for example, men were on average more entitled than women," Stronge said.

"Men and women's entitlement also changed differently across the lifespan: women's entitlement appears to steadily decrease, whereas men's entitlement initially gets higher across their 20s before decreasing."