Q: It seems many of the younger generation care more about pop culture instead of serious societal manners — some may call it brain dead. Are today’s young people lacking in emotional intelligence?
Older generations have been decrying the loss of seriousness and manners in young people since at least the time of Aristotle, several centuries B.C. Today’s older generations – particularly the Baby Boomers, born in the decade or so after World War II – are a case in point: their parents despaired that this generation would shred cultural norms. Didn’t happen. Like other generations, the Boomers matured, married, had kids and careers. I suspect this phenomenon is so robust because there is a period in brain development, roughly from the teen years to early 20s, where the brain’s circuitry for saying no to impulse is underdeveloped, resulting in risky, unruly, or wild behavior which can lead older folks to make judgments about the generation itself rather than this period in development. About the time Emotional Intelligence was published there was a nationwide, longitudinal study carried out over decades that showed an objective dip in teens behavior — more crime, violence, substance abuse, etc. But in subsequent years that drop has largely disappeared; emotional intelligence in today’s young people seems about the same as in previous generations. But let’s see if longterm impacts from the new tech media on self-management and relationship show up in years to come.