Millennials and Generation Xers have adopted a reputation for being environmental idealists, but according to a new analysis, young Americans are less interested in becoming those "green" warriors that many have presumed them to be. Published this month by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study compiled an analysis of surveys spanning four decades, and resolved that conserving resources and becoming more environmentally conscious are less important to young Americans than they were to their elders.
Jean Twenge, who wrote the book Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before, has spent much of her professional life researching the challenges that young people face today and how such challenges reflect on their overall beliefs. "I was shocked," asserted Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University and one of the study’s authors. "We have the perception that we're getting through to people. But at least compared to previous eras, we're not."
The study, entitled "Generational Differences in Young Adults’ Life Goals, Concern for Others, and Civic Orientation," begins with a quote describing today’s young Americans as a "civic-minded" generation, followed by another quote that suggests the contrary:
"People born between 1982 and 2000 are the most civic-minded since the generation of the 1930s and 1940s," say Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, co-authors of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, You-Tube, and the Future of American Politics.... "Other generations were reared to be more individualistic," Hais says. "This civic generation has a willingness to put aside some of their own personal advancement to improve society." — USA Today, 2009
College students today show less empathy toward others compared with college students in decades before. With different demands at work — hours answering and writing e-mail — people have less time to care about others. — USA Today, 2010
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