Not everyone interpreted the new findings in the same way, however. Jennifer Crocker is a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and a longtime researcher in self-esteem. She said that by selecting data from 1975 and 2006, Twenge and Campbell have only presented two moments in time and have not shown evidence of any decades-long trend.
And based on available academic data, today's young Americans might be right to be more self-confident, Crocker argued.
"The fact is that we are all getting smarter -- IQ is going up quite dramatically over this same period of time," Crocker noted. "Students may believe that they are getting trained better than they used to, that they are learning skills that they didn't use to have. So, maybe their predictions aren't unreasonable."
But Twenge, who is the author of a book on young people's self-views called Generation Me, isn't convinced. In fact, she believes that today's parents may be sending another crop of young Americans down the same path.
"I have a 2-year-old daughter," she said. "I see the parenting of kids around her age, and I haven't seen this changing. Look around -- about a fourth of the clothing available to her says 'Little Princess' on it."
There's more on kids and healthy self-esteem at the Nemours Foundation.
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