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 [see: narcissistic rage].
Making them more aware of the impact [their actions] ultimately have on others might—keyword, “might”—spark change.”
The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Nealis et al., 2015).