Paper Proposal #1

Scope: I want to investigate why in a highly patriotic country like the United States, aggression is so prevalent. My focus will be mainly on the United States, and I will look at the way social media and consumerist ideology play a role in an increasingly aggressive nation. The most recent headlines tell of dishonesty and violent behavior. The frequency of shootings and of other destructive acts has increased to a daily occurrence, yet very little has been done to put an end to it. The United States is a highly nationalistic country, and while that may not necessarily be bad, the combination of its nationalism and narcissism is. The fastest growing generation in the United States is the millennial generation, who have been raised simultaneously to great technological advancements. Yet the Internet has enhanced the image of people, creating a society of self-absorption. Somehow this conceitedness has worked its way into the country’s identity. By examining that identity, and thus the values of the United States, perhaps the cause of the increased aggression will make itself known.


Analytical Questions: According to an eMarketer report in 2013, about one in four people in the United States use some type of social media regularly, and this number is rising. Social media is simply a way in which people are able to show off what they have done or are doing. It is a mechanism that promotes thoughts of only one’s self. If over a quarter of the United States’ population is encourage to think about themselves, it creates a society of callousness. How does a child’s development change in an insensitive society compared to one more compassionate? Does this result in aggressive behavior? Moreover, it isn’t as if the United States is the first patriotic country on the planet, so how does their patriotism compare to the patriotism of other countries? Furthermore, how do American values differ from other countries, and what are the results? Finally, does this make the United States more dangerous than other countries?


Originality: Historically the United States has promoted ideas such as the American Dream which are about an individual’s success. These ideas focus on one person, not on a general group of people or an entire population. These thoughts have not changed, nor has the country attempted to let go of these ideals. Narcissism, however, has led to an insensitive culture, yet this is something that has been embraced by the country. Why does a country that has so much power in the world pride itself on being callous and self-absorbed? It is as if the country is unaware of its own problems, as it is so focused on the disputes outside of its own borders. But the Unites States simply cannot attempt to solve issues in other countries if it cannot control its own problems. Especially not if the country is one of the most powerful in the world.


Practicality: There are definitely enough sources to back my argument. Already I have found a couple sources discussing the various aspects of my paper (i.e. aggression and self absorption, nationalism and narcissism, and the current American values). These sources have just been through a brief search on Dickinson’s Library catalog, so I am positive there will be many more. Moreover, the New York Times and other major newspapers will be a key source as I must refer to the headlines to see if the frequency of shootings remains the same.


Caldwell, Wilber W. American narcissism: the myth of national superiority New York: Algora Publishing, 2006.

Black, Percy. “Review of The American People. A study in national character.” Psychological Bulletin 46, no. 1 (January 1949): 89-93.

Lunbeck, Elizabeth. The Americanization of Narcissism. Harvard University Press, 2014.

Davies, Paul G., Claude M. Steele, and Hazel Rose Markus. “A nation challenged: The impact of foreign threat on America’s tolerance for diversity.” Journals of Personality and Social Psychology 95, no. 2 (August 2008): 308-318.

Jahromi, Parissa. “American Identity in the USA: Youth Perspectives.” Applied Development Science 15, no. 2 (April 2011): 79-93.

5 thoughts on “Paper Proposal #1

  1. Bella, I liked your ideas and how you seemed to have connected a variety of possible contributing factors to the “increasing aggression” in the United States. I would suggest backing this claim with a statistic, especially in the scope when you write about the country being more violent and self-centered. This is a very relevant issue, and it is original because many people look past it.
    I would try to pick a possible cause, maybe two, and get more specific, rather than introduce all of these possible causes; I am a little confused as to what your thesis is, if it is there, but you presented your ideas well and proposed some stimulating and thought provoking topics. Good job.

  2. Your idea brings together a lot of subjects that you wouldn’t normally piece together. I think proving that all these ideas are linked is a really interesting topic for a paper that I have never seen done before. However, I’m not really sure what your tentative thesis would be because of how complex the topic seems. Are you saying that increasing aggression comes from our narcissism, social media being one example? I think if you make that a little clearer and piece all the ideas together in the right way, this will be a super interesting paper.

  3. Bella, this seems like a very interesting topic and I like how you bring together a variety of ideas to make your point. Although it may be tough to connect these broad ideas, I think with the right research you can do it. The only thing that I would say is to possibly condense some of the reasons behind why this aggression is happening and it will be a little easier to prove your point. Also I think you should develop a tentative thesis to show exactly where you are heading with this topic.

  4. I think this is a really good topic and will be interesting to read once it is complete to see how this self-absorption will effect us. The only thing I would focus on would be narrowing down on the “so what”. You brought up several great topics such as gun violence, foreign and domestic policies, social media, and consumerism. These are all great research points but I would focus on one or two that really connects to the aggression in the United States. Other than that I think it is a very prevalent and original topic. You will be able to use a lot of modern day examples and I think it will lead to a great explanation of the problem.

  5. I really like your topic, and the various connections you are exploring to try and find a good answer. It’s obvious that you’ve put a lot of thought to this, and are really serious about this issue. Good work!

    I think I get what you’re trying to say in the scope, but the flow of thought was a little confusing and I had a slight trouble following it. A little revising and clarification will, I think help clear it up! And speaking about flow, I think it will also add to the sense of connection if you put the analytical questions in some sort of an order that could be considered as a flow of thought, adding between them a few tentative attempts on trying to answer some of them, and thereby coming up with more questions.

    I also couldn’t really grasp the originality of your topic–I see how it is related with the modern issue, of which you did a really good job. (Some of it, though, seemed to focus more on the value than anything else; but I’m not sure what you did with the organization, so it’s just something to think about…) But I’m not sure how your paper will be different from any other peoples’ approaches, when clearly other people must have researched similar areas, as you yourself have mentioned in the “Practicality” section.

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