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Narcissism in the literary world is on the rise, a [new study] from San Diego State University suggests.

“Changes in written language reflect broader cultural changes,” says social psychologist and lead researcher Jean Twenge, who has explored the generational shift toward individualism in books such as Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic.

To conduct the study, participants aged 20-82 ranked a series of individualistic words such as “personalize” and “self,” along with another series of phrases including “I love me,” and “I’m the best.” Also ranked were words and phrases denoting group commitments and communalism.

Researchers then took their data and scanned through over 750,000 books published between 1960 and 2008. They found that during that time use of individualistic words rose 20 percent, while the employment of such phrases spiked by 72 percent.

“I’ve often said that phrases like ‘I love me’ had to be recent ideas — can you imagine someone saying or writing that in the 1950s?” Twenge told SDSU’s NewsCenter.

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