Belief in the Decline of the Youth Has Persisted for Centuries.

The “kids these days” effect is the belief that young people in the present are inferior to previous generations. Researchers have found that this belief is persistent and widespread across time and cultures. There are a few possible explanations for this phenomenon. One possibility is that it is based on an inflated view of one’s own generation and a belief in its superiority. Another possibility is that people’s evaluations of the youth depend on how they view themselves on specific traits, such as intelligence. This is referred to as the trait-specific hypothesis. Additionally, memory biases and the tendency to spend time with similar people may also impact how accurately people remember their own childhoods and the youth of previous generations. Their recollections may be based only on individuals they had much in common and may exclude people who were different in meaningful ways.

People Excelling in Specific Traits Judge More Harshly - Part 1

The researchers conducted five studies to investigate this effect. The first three studies looked at three different traits (respect for authority, intelligence, and enjoyment of reading) and whether the “kids these days” effect was stronger or weaker in people who excel in those traits. The first study found that people who have high respect for authority believe that children today are less respectful of their elders than in the past. The second study found that more intelligent people believe that children today are less intelligent than in the past. Both of these studies support the trait-specific hypothesis, which suggests that the “kids these days” effect is stronger in people who have high levels of the trait in question.

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