Baby boomers are the most sensitive generation, new study says - and it shows exactly what the world is getting wrong about millennials

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JASON CAIRNDUFF/Reuters

A new study finds that baby boomers are more sensitive than millennials.

Millennials are known for being "sensitive," but society may be applying the label to the wrong generation.

Turns out, older generations are more hypersensitive than younger generations, according to a new study published in the Journal Psychology and Aging. This suggests that millennials, those ages 23 to 38, are less hypersensitive than baby boomers, those ages 55 to 73, reported Julia Naftulin for Business Insider.
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The researchers defined "hypersensitivity" as being unreceptive to others' feedback and lashing out at any criticism toward one's self, Naftulin wrote.

The study - the largest on narcissism to date - examined six previously collected data sets that included nearly 750 people ages 13 to 77 to better understand how narcissistic traits vary among generations, and how levels of narcissism change as people age. It examined both generational and individual trends in narcissistic behaviors, unlike previous studies on narcissism that focused only on one or the other, according to Naftulin.

Narcissistic personality disorder, according to Mayo Clinic, is a mental state that involves an inflated sense of self-importance, need for excessive attention and admiration, lack of empathy, and low self-esteem vulnerable to criticism. These traits exist on a spectrum and can exist even if the person doesn't have the disorder.
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Researchers found that as individuals in the study aged, they became less sensitive, with hypersensitivity sharply declining at age 40. But when they looked at generation-specific trends, they found that younger generations are less sensitive than their parents.

Millennials have a reputation as "snowflakes"

The findings are the opposite of how the world views millennials.In a 2017 interview with Forbes, generational expert Neil Howe said that news organizations often referred to millennials as "generation snowflake" - a disparaging term for being sheltered, politically correct, and sensitive.
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While this stereotype has "kernels of truth," Howe said, the criticism paints a distorted picture. "To focus just on these traits in a negative way typically leads to associated claims about millennials that have no basis in fact," he said. "And it tempts us to overlook genuine millennial strengths that will likely hugely benefit our country in the years to come."

For example, millennials are earnest, positive, accepting of others, and optimistic, qualities that have greater influence in the long run, according to reporter Joel Stein. In a 2013 cover story for Time magazine, Stein explored the stereotype of millennials as lazy and entitled.

Baby boomers, he said, are known as the "Me Generation," but they produced millennials, the "Me Me Me Generation." However, he found that there's a much bigger picture beyond the stereotype.
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"A generation's greatness," he wrote, is "determined by how they react to the challenges that befall them. And, just as important, by how we react to them."

Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence

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