Narcissistic perfectionists — like the late Steve Jobs — are arguably the worst type of narcissists.
They are grandiose, see themselves as special, have a high sense of entitlement and extremely high expectations of others.
Plus, they love to criticise.
Logan Nealis, the study’s first author, said:
“A narcissistic perfectionist parent demands perfect performance from his daughter on the hockey rink, but not necessarily from anyone else out there.
They’re getting a sense of vitality or self-esteem through the perfect performance of other people, and they bask in that glow vicariously.”
For the research, students were asked to keep 28-day diaries.
The results revealed that narcissistic perfectionists were socially toxic.
Dr Simon Sherry, study co-author, said:
“Our most consistent finding across the two studies is that narcissistic perfectionism is associated with social negativity in the form of anger, derogation, conflict and hostility.”
Dr Sherry continued:
“When you look at what appears to be happening between the ears of a narcissistic perfectionist, you see they’re thinking really negative, hostile, critical things about other people.
They maintain this superior sense of themselves: ‘I’m perfect, I’m awesome, and you’re not so you’re defective.”
The study’s authors analyse the biographies of famous narcissistic perfectionists, include former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs:
“According to one biography, [Jobs] expected perfection from others in an entitled, demanding, and hyper-critical manner.
Employees reported going from ‘hero to zero’ in Jobs’ estimation after even minor mistakes; employees also noted Jobs routinely derogated them in front of co-workers.”
Logan Nealis said:
“If you have high expectations of someone, that may well be a positive thing—if it’s paired with a warm, nurturing interpersonal style.
But high expectations paired with feelings of grandiosity and entitlement to the perfect performance of others creates a much more negative combination.”
Dr Sherry continued:
“We may be characterizing a problem of our times.
It may very well be that we live in an age of entitlement where grandiose demands are often made in everyday life.
Narcissistic perfectionists have a need for other people to satisfy their unreasonable expectations… And if you don’t, they get angry.
Making them more aware of the impact [their actions] ultimately have on others might—keyword, “might”—spark change.”
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 of Research in Personality (Nealis et al., 2015).