Inherent in many people’s personalities, entitlement is characterized by the belief that one is entitled to preferences and resources that others do not have. We perceive entitlement primarily by its effect on us: feelings of jealousy, wrath, and frustration, just as we recognize boundaries. The question we have is, “Why do they believe they deserve it any more than I do?” “Is it them, or is it just me?” they ask themselves.
In some cases, we confuse a sense of entitlement with a sense of self-assurance projected by competent, assured, and frequently charismatic others. Occasionally, we confuse it with narcissism, which it is frequently connected with, or with self-absorption, which might appear to be the same thing on occasion, as well.
Me, me, me, me, me…
A brief burst of entitlement can be beneficial in some situations, according to study; it can stimulate creativity and lead to creative, unusual solutions to issues, the kind of thinking that companies and employers strive to foster. Individuals who have a sense of entitlement, whether deserved or not, are more likely to think and act in ways that are distinct from their peers, and the more they do so, the more eager and able they are to develop innovative ideas. On the other side, having a persistently entitled personality can make it difficult to find the drive to put in extra effort. When we talk about entitled, entitled millennials, we are referring to those who have not earned their A’s or promotions through their own hard work. These are the individuals we are referring to.
Our unwillingness to recognize another’s meritorious worth or hard-earned success, for example, reveals how often we think about ourselves rather than about others. Pejoratively labeling an individual or a generation as entitled reveals more of us than it does about them. The fact that Hilary Clinton was regarded as entitled when she ran for political office, but not while she was really in it, is an excellent illustration.
Strongly entitled people, whether they are merited or not, are less concerned with what is socially acceptable or beneficial, according to researchers at Harvard and Cornell who conducted studies on 99 undergraduates and 98 MBA candidates and came up with another conclusion: People who believe they are entitled do not obey instructions because they believe they are unfair. In their study, the authors discovered a link between high scores on entitlement measurements and difficulty complying with the “rules” of the experimental task: “They would rather take a loss themselves than agree to something unfair.” When researchers tried to figure out why students ignored them (because of selfishness, control, or punishment), they discovered that fairness was the most important factor.
When people believe they have a right to something, they seek to stand out from the crowd. However, they frequently come across as unconcerned about other people’s feelings. That is why they frequently elicit such unfavorable reactions from individuals they come into contact with, particularly those who are unfamiliar with them. Perhaps the most important element about entitlement is that it sends a silent signal to our brains that our unpleasant emotions have been provoked by it. Acknowledging when our own feeling of entitlement is motivating us can help us better understand why we feel the need to defy social convention, struggle against restrictions on our autonomy, or break rules that prevent us from engaging in our preferred behavior. It’s one thing to march to the beat of our own drummer; it’s quite another to recognize when that sound has an effect on others, like chalk on a blackboard.
According to popular opinion, baby boomers considered themselves affluent and fortunate rather than entitled, whereas their children and grandchildren consider themselves entitled regardless of their status. And parents are frequently criticized for instilling this characteristic in their children by providing them everything they want, when they want it, and encouraging them to believe that they are deserving of what they have.
Parents who want their children to be successful and accomplish the best they can are unfairly targeted in this way. It is not our responsibility to inform them that their aspirations are out of reach or that their expectations are too high. As a result, it would be more prudent for us to assist their efforts to attain them.