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Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors

Abstract

Anecdotal evidence suggests an increase in entitled attitudes and behaviors of youth in school and college settings. Using a newly developed scale to assess “academic entitlement” (AE), a construct that includes expectations of high grades for modest effort and demanding attitudes towards teachers, this research is the first to investigate the phenomenon systematically. In two separate samples of ethnically diverse college students comprised largely of East and Southeast Asian American, followed by Caucasians, Latinos, and other groups (total N = 839, age range 18–25 years), we examined the personality, parenting, and motivational correlates of AE. AE was most strongly related to exploitive attitudes towards others and moderately related to an overall sense of entitlement and to narcissism. Students who reported more academically entitled attitudes perceived their parents as exerting achievement pressure marked by social comparison with other youth and materially rewarding good grades, scored higher than their peers in achievement anxiety and extrinsic motivation, and engaged in more academic dishonesty. AE was not significantly associated with GPA.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to our current and past lab members, Dr. Esther Chang, Dr. Julia Dmitrieva, Gary Germo, Dr. Amy Himsel, Asha Goldweber, and Edwin Tan, for contributing valuable insights to our conceptualization of AE. We also wish to thank the reviewers of an earlier version of this paper for suggestions that substantially improved it, and the editor for encouraging us to expand upon, rather than truncate, the original text.

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Correspondence to Ellen Greenberger.

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Greenberger, E., Lessard, J., Chen, C. et al. Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors. J Youth Adolescence 37, 1193–1204 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9284-9

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Keywords

  • Sense of entitlement
  • Academic entitlement
  • Parenting processes
  • Socially comparative achievement pressure
  • Achievement anxiety
  • Student–teacher relationships
  • Academic dishonesty