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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Baumeister, R. F., Smart, L., & Boden, J. M. (1996). Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem. Psychological Review, 103, 5–33.
Benton, T. H. (6/9/2006). A tough-love manifesto for professors. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 52, Issue 40, p. C1.
Bolin, A. U. (2004). Self-control, perceived opportunity, and attitudes as predictors of academic dishonesty. Journal of Psychology, 138, 101–114.
Campbell, W. K., Bonacci, A. M., Shelton, J., Exline, J. J., & Bushman, B. J. (2004). Psychological entitlement: Interpersonal consequences and validation of a self-report measure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 8, 29–45.
Chao, R., & Tseng, V. (2002). Parenting of Asians. In M. H. Bornstein (Series Ed.), Handbook of parenting: Vol. 4. Social conditions and applied parenting (2nd ed., pp. 59–93). Mahway, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). The five-factor model of personality and its relevance to personality disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 6, 343–359.
Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627–668.
Frost, R, Marten, R., Lahart, C. C., & Rosenblate, R. (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 449–468.
Glater, J. D. (February 21, 2006). To: Professor@University.edu. Subject: Why It’s all about me. The New York Times, pp. 1 and ff.
Greenberger, E., Chen, C., & Beam, M. (1998). The role of “very important” nonparental adults in adolescent development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 321–342.
Greenberger, E., Josselson, R., Knerr, C., & Knerr, B. (1975). The measurement and structure of psychosocial maturity. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 4, 127–143.
Greenberger, E., Lessard, J., Chen, C., & Farruggia, S.P. (2007). Validation studies for the Achievement Anxiety and Extrinsic Motivation scales. Unpublished manuscript.
Haugaard, J. J. (2001). Problem behaviors in adolescence. NY: McGraw Hill.
Herring, S. C. (2002). Computer-mediated communication on the internet. Annual review of information science and technology, 36, 109–168.
Kuh, G. D., & Hu, S. (1999). Unraveling the complexity of the increase in college grades from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 21, 297–320.
Lessard, J., Farruggia, S. P., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (March, 2006). Development of a multidimensional measure of self-entitlement. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence. San Francisco, CA.
Lessard, J., Greenberger, E., Chen, C., & Farruggia, S. P. (2007). Deconstructing “entitlement.” Manuscript submitted for publication.
Lexis/Nexis. Retrieved 15 November 2007 from Lexis/Nexis Academic database.
McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1997). Individual and contextual influences on academic dishonesty: A multi-campus investigation. Research in Higher Education, 38, 379–396.
McHoskey, J. (1995). Naricissism and Machiavellianism. Psychological Reports, 77, 755–759.
Newbart, D. (12/27/05). The coddled generation: Generation Y keeping close ties to mom and dad. Chicago Sun-Times, p. 8.
Paschke, B. (12/14/05). It’s a case of addition by subtraction. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.
Raskin, R., & Terry, H. (1988). A principal-components analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and further evidence for its construct validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 890–902.
Redding, R. E. (1998). Students’ evaluations of teaching fuel grade inflation. American Psychologist, 53, 1227–1228.
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: University Press.
Schwarz, J. C., Barton-Henry, M. L., & Pruzinsky, T. (1985). Assessing child-rearing behaviors: A comparison of ratings made by mother, father, child, and sibling on the CRPBI. Child Development, 56, 462–479.
Spielberger, C., Gorsuch, R. L., & Lushene, R. E. (1970). STAI manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Steinberg, L. (1996). Beyond the classroom. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Tabachnick, B. G., Keith-Spiegel, P., & Pope, K. S. (1991). Ethics of teaching: Beliefs and behaviors of psychologists as educators. American Psychologist, 46, 506–515.
Trzesniewski, K. H., Donellan, M. B., & Robins, R. W. (2008). Do today’s young people really think they are so extraordinary? An examination of secular trends in narcissism and self-enhancement. Psychological Science, 19, 181–188.
Twenge, J. M. (2006). Generation me. New York: Free Press.
Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2001). Age and birth cohort differences in self-esteem: A cross-temporal meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 321–344.
Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2003). “Isn’t it fun to get the respect that we’re going to deserve?”: Narcissism, social rejection, and aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 261–272.
Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., & Briere, N. M. (1993). On the assessment of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education: Evidence on the concurrent and construct validity of the academic motivation scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53, 159–172.
Wink, P. (1991). Two faces of narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 590–597.
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.
About this article
Cite this article
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
- Sense of entitlement
- Academic entitlement
- Parenting processes
- Socially comparative achievement pressure
- Achievement anxiety
- Student–teacher relationships
- Academic dishonesty