'Me, Me, Me': Book Analysis Shows the Fall of 'We'

New study finds individualistic words on the rise
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2012 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A new study of more than 750,000 American books from the past half-century shows that Americans have become more focused on individualism since the 1960s, researchers say. The study found that individualistic words like "I" were used more than communal words like "we," USA Today reports. An accelerated increase in individualism after the 1960s—and the women's rights and civil rights movements—has been argued in the past, but this study shows it's really happening, says a psychologist.

But it's not so much independence and "standing on your own two feet" that's being emphasized more often, the psychologist adds. It's more "uniqueness and greatness." Some of the words and phrases that popped up more often: "unique" and "I love me." But not everyone is convinced. The words and phrases "are subjective choices," says one linguistics professor. "It's a little bit hazardous to make a leap from that to say this is a direction that American society is going."

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