High levels of pathological narcissism have been linked to men carrying out sexual assaults in a new study.
A survey of 234 male university students found that 20% had committed some kind of sexual assault.
4% had committed rape.
Pathological narcissism, along with sexual promiscuity and aggression in men have all been linked to sexual assaults.
Pathological narcissism can cause difficulties in relating to others.
Dr Emily Mouilso, study co-author, said:
“As we predicted, the aspects of narcissism that we thought would be related were (related) — the lack of empathy, the entitlement aspects of narcissism.”
Date rape drugs and alcohol were more likely to be used by those with narcissistic traits, the researchers found.
Professor Karen Calhoun, study co-author, said:
“I think people don’t realize how prevalent drinking is…
It’s not so much how much they drink in total for women that makes them vulnerable; it’s how much they drink at a time, the binge drinking, the getting drunk and just not being alert and aware of their surroundings or the risks involved.
That really puts women at risk.”
Both promiscuity and aggression were linked to sexual assault, Dr Mouilso explained:
“…people who have higher levels of sexual interest and more frequent sexual partners, they’re more OK with impersonal sex.
That’s one stream of risk factors.
The second path is the hostile masculinity path.
That has more to do with how you look at women, so having a hostile and angry orientation toward women in general and thinking that relationships are adversarial … it’s more about, what can I get out of this person that I want?
I don’t really care all that much about what they want.”
Perpetrators are not normally strangers, despite the societal belief about ‘stranger danger’, Dr Mouilso said:
“It’s less likely to be a stranger who jumps out of the bush.
It’s more likely to be someone you know like the guy sitting next to you in your intro psych class.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Violence Against Women (Mouilso & Calhoun, 2016).