Two Positive Aspects Of Narcissism That Benefit Well-Being (S)

Some aspects of narcissism can be beneficial.

Some aspects of narcissism can be beneficial.

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The Attractive Trait That Predicts Cheating

They did not feel guilty about cheating, either.

They did not feel guilty about cheating, either.

Narcissists are more likely to cheat and do not feel as guilty about it, research finds.

The study on academic cheating found that fiddling the test allowed narcissists to show off their academic ability to their peers.

Narcissists often appear more attractive to others, until their real personalities shine through.

Dr Amy Brunell, the study’s first author, explained:

“Narcissists really want to be admired by others, and you look good in college if you’re getting good grades.

They also tend to feel less guilt, so they don’t mind cheating their way to the top.”

Narcissists are highly self-centred and want to show off their skills to others.

A lack of empathy means narcissist feel less guilt for what they do.

Dr Brunell said:

“Narcissists feel the need to maintain a positive self-image and they will sometimes set aside ethical concerns to get what they want.

We found that one of the more harmless parts of narcissism — exhibitionism — is most associated with academic cheating, which is somewhat surprising.”

Typical questions that identify a narcissist include strongly agreeing with the statement “I think I am a special person.”

However, it wasn’t this but the showing off that really drove the narcissists in the study to cheat.

Dr Brunell said:

“You would think that the belief that you are a special person and that you can do what you want would be associated with cheating.

But instead, we’re finding that it is the desire to show off that really seems to drive cheating.”

Narcissists also believed that everyone else was cheating just the same as them, Dr Brunell said:

“One argument might be that narcissists are admitting to cheating, but saying that everyone else does it, too.

But that’s not what we found.

Narcissists actually report more cheating for themselves than they do for others.

It seems likely that the same people causing problems in the workplace and engaging in white collar crime are the ones who were cheating in the classroom.”

High self-esteem — which is quite different from being a narcissist — was not linked to cheating.

Dr Brunell said:

“People with higher levels of self-esteem are probably more confident in their abilities and don’t feel any peer pressure to cheat.”

People with high self-esteem thought others were unlikely to cheat, since they did not need to themselves.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Brunell et al., 2011).

This Common Activity Identifies A Narcissist

How to spot a narcissist from their online behaviour.

How to spot a narcissist from their online behaviour.

People who are addicted to Facebook are more likely to be narcissists, new research finds.

The study followed the Facebook use of 179 German students over a year.

All were asked about their personalities and other aspects of their psychological life, like levels of depression and anxiety.

The results showed that people with narcissistic personalities were more likely to get addicted to Facebook.

The study’s authors write:

“Facebook use holds a particular meaning for narcissistic people.

On Facebook, they can quickly initiate many superficial relationships with new Facebook-friends and get a large audience for their well-planned self-presentation.

The more Facebook-friends they have, the higher is the possibility that they attain the popularity and admiration they are seeking; whereas in the offline world they might not be as popular since their interaction partners can quickly perceive their low agreeableness and exaggerated sense of self-importance.”

The researchers also found that Facebook addiction was linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety.

Whether people can really be ‘addicted’ to Facebook is still a controversial issue.

However, people addicted to Facebook typically show the six characteristics of addiction, the authors argue:

“FAD [Facebook Addiction Disorder] is defined by six typical characteristics of addiction disorders: salience (e.g., permanent thinking of Facebook use), tolerance (e.g., requiring increasing time on Facebook to achieve previous positive using effect), mood modification (e.g., mood improvement by Facebook use), relapse (reverting to earlier use pattern after ineffective attempts to reduce Facebook use), withdrawal symptoms (e.g., becoming nervous without possibility to use Facebook), and conflict (e.g., interpersonal problems caused by intensive Facebook use).”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Brailovskaia & Margraf, 2017).

Men or Women? No Surprise Which Gender is More Narcissistic

The gender which is more narcissistic and more likely to exploit others.

The gender which is more narcissistic and more likely to exploit others.

Men are more narcissistic than women, on average, a new study finds.

Data from almost half a million people collected across 31 years found that men score higher on narcissism across age groups and generations.

The results are published in the journal Psychological Bulletin (Grijalva et al., 2015).

Dr Emily Grijalva, the study’s lead author, said:

“Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression.

At the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader.

By examining gender differences in narcissism, we may be able to explain gender disparities in these important outcomes.”

The largest gaps between the genders were found in entitlement.

This suggests men are more likely to feel privileged and to exploit others.

Dr Grijalva said:

“Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power, but there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption.”

As with many gender differences, however, the study only found a relatively small overall difference between men and women.

There are way more differences between different people than there are between men and women, on average.

More narcissistic?

The researchers also checked to see if college students were becoming more narcissistic over time.

But there was no evidence that we are living in a more narcissistic age than we were 30 years ago.

One explanation for the difference may be in gender stereotypes.

Since most people expect men to be more narcissistic, they may behave that way in response.

Dr Grijalva said:

“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations.

In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”

Narcissistic image from Shutterstock

Facebook or Twitter? How Age and Narcissism Motivates The Choice

Facebook is a mirror while Twitter is a megaphone.

Facebook is a mirror while Twitter is a megaphone.

A study on both Facebook and Twitter reveals connections between narcissism and how people use social media (Panek et al., 2013).

According to the University of Michigan study, the way people use Facebook is like a mirror, to reflect their personality. Twitter, though, is more like a megaphone: for broadcasting.

To reach these conclusions, Panek and colleagues carried out two studies. In the first, college students were asked how they used social media and given personality assessments. Among this younger age-group, the narcissists preferred to use Twitter to broadcast their opinions to others.

The lead researcher, Elliot Panek, explained:

“Young people may overevaluate the importance of their own opinions. Through Twitter, they’re trying to broaden their social circles and broadcast their views about a wide range of topics and issues.”

In a second study, people whose average age was 35 were asked about their social media use. This revealed that the narcissists among the slightly older age-group preferred Facebook.

Panek explained that for this age-group:

“It’s about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image. Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves, and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles.”

Image credit: Robert S. Donovan

Are Narcissists As Sexy As They Think?

Narcissists are convinced they are God’s gift, but what do the rest of us really think?

Narcissists are convinced they are God’s gift, but what do the rest of us really think?

Narcissists themselves think they are sexy. In comparison with non-narcissists, they claim to:

  • find it easy to find new partners,
  • have alternatives to their current partner,
  • and have had more sexual partners overall.

But they are preening, manipulative, self-obsessed, narcissists; they would say that. How about we use more objective measures than just asking narcissists how great they think they are?

Dufner et al. (2013) have done just that in a new series of studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

In these narcissists were rated by strangers, by their friends and had their dating skills tested in the field.

Scoring phone numbers

In the first study participants looked at written profiles of people either low, medium or high in narcissism. They then rated them for their appeal as both a friend and as a partner.

What emerged was that the profiles high in narcissism did not predict friend-appeal but were rated as more attractive as potential mates.

Score one for the narcissists.

A second study moved out of the lab and asked the friends of real, live narcissists about how attractive and socially bold their friends were. Once again the narcissists emerged as more socially bold and attractive than their non-narcissistic peers.

Score two for the narcissists.

Finally men were sent out onto the street to try and get the telephone numbers of passing women. When the results came in, it was the narcissists who had scored the most phone numbers and who were rated most attractive by those they approached.

Score three for the narcissists.

Overall it turned out that it wasn’t just that narcissists were better looking (although they often were) or that they had higher self-esteem; it was their self-enhancing thoughts that made them more attractive to others. They thought they were great, so other people thought they were great.

These self-enhancing thoughts enhanced their social boldness, which turned other people on.

Your inner narcissist

For those non-narcissists among us, bear in mind that this research is all about short-term mate appeal. Over the long-term, many quickly get fed up with narcissists’ self-obsessed behaviour (more on the paradoxes of narcissism). But in the short-term the narcissists have it.

So, if you’re a perfectly normal non-narcissist looking to boost your sex-appeal, it’s time to get in touch with your inner narcissist. To give you a head-start, here are the type of questions that narcissists strongly endorse (from Jonason & Webster, 2010):

  1. I tend to want others to admire me.
  2. I tend to want others to pay attention to me.
  3. I tend to seek prestige or status.
  4. I tend to expect special favours from others.

If you’re thinking like this then you’re thinking like a narcissist.

Not that I’m recommending it of course.

Image credit: Hannah Kate

Why The Typical Antisocial, Narcissistic, Depressive TV Detective Would in Reality Be a Terrible Judge of Character

You can learn to be a better judge of character, but not from depressive TV detectives.

You can learn to be a better judge of character, but not from depressive TV detectives.

There’s a certain type of TV hero who can see straight into the souls of the people he meets. Often these characters are also antisocial, narcissistic, disagreeable and depressive.

He or she could be a detective, a doctor or even a psychologist, but whatever their profession they always have a special gift for reading other people. One or two glances and the target is pegged.

If only life were that simple and we could quickly work out what other people are like. After all being able to accurately judge another person’s personality helps you predict how they will behave. Just think how much easier many areas of our lives would be: choosing a partner, or an employee for instance.

Is this person really as hard-working as they appear or are they just pretending to be conscientious? Is that person really sociable or are they going to keep refusing to go to parties? And so on…

How successful we are in making judgements about other people depends on some things over which we have little control. For a start it helps a little if you’re a woman. In addition, some people are just easier to read than others. The most difficult people to read are the emotionally unstable, introverted, and those lacking in conscientiousness.

It’s also hard to make good judgements without the right information. Obviously sometimes we just don’t know enough about another person or we don’t see them behaving in ways that gives some insight into their personality. For example it’s difficult to tell much about people when they’re in situations which strongly constrain behaviour, like being at a funeral or in the audience at a comedy gig.

People are often like actors in a play: you think they’re revealing themselves but really they’re hiding behind a character or the situation.

Relaxed, approachable, agreeable

Despite these difficulties, there are ways in which we can become better judges of character. A hint comes from research on which types of people are naturally better at judging others. It turns out that good judges of personality tend to be content with life, relaxed, approachable, agreeable and unconcerned with power and definitely not narcissistic. This description seems to rule out many an anxious, depressive TV hero.

For example, one study found that …

“…a videotape of getting-acquainted conversations among three people showed that good judges of personality talked about positive topics, made eye contact, expressed warmth, and seemed to enjoy themselves (Letzring, 2008). In an interesting follow-up study, videotapes of these conversations were shown to unacquainted observers who were asked to judge the personalities of the participants. If a conversation included at least one person who was a good judge, the unacquainted observers made more accurate judgments of all the participants!” (from: Funder, 2012)

This suggests that to successfully judge personality we need to give people the chance to express themselves. The softly, softly approach is most likely to work. If people feel relaxed and comfortable then they are more likely to show their true natures.

So if you want to see into people’s souls, forget about the antisocial Sherlock Holmes or the highly anxious Adrian Monk. Much better to operate with the charm and lightness of touch associated with Hercule Poirot or the apparently bumbling Columbo.

Image credit: Fat Les

The Problem With Narcissistic Leaders

Narcissistic leaders reduce information sharing in groups, leading to poor task performance.

Narcissistic leaders reduce information sharing in groups, leading to poor task performance.

Narcissistic leaders are everywhere. Just think of Steve Jobs, Nicolas Sarkozy or Bill Clinton.

Normally we don’t share narcissists’ self-inflated opinions of themselves, but for leadership it’s different. Narcissists know how to radiate all the qualities of a good leader: they have high self-esteem, they are confident and they display authority. Research has shown they seem to automatically take over leaderless groups (Brunell et al., 2008).

But how does a narcissistic leader affect group performance? That’s the question Nevicka et al. (2011) ask in a new study published in Psychological Science.

One job of a leader is to help the members of a group communicate with each other. If information is flowing between group members, then better decisions can be made. So, what do narcissists do to information flow amongst group members?

What Nevicka et al.’s study found was that narcissistic leaders actually reduced information sharing among groups, which led to worse group performance.

Crucially, though, this wasn’t the perception of the group. The groups thought the narcissists were doing a good job, when actually they weren’t (as measured by task performance). This perception is probably dynamic:

“It is possible that over time, group members’ positive impressions of narcissistic leaders decrease. Indeed, previous research has shown that although people’s impressions of narcissists are positive at first, they decline over time (Paulhus, 1998).”

But by then we’re stuck with them.

Image credit: Marquette LaForest

Why We Love Narcissists (At First)

Paradoxically we initially like narcissists more because of their exploitative, entitled behaviour — but it doesn’t last long.


Paradoxically we initially like narcissists more because of their exploitative, entitled behaviour—but it doesn’t last long.

Despite being self-absorbed, arrogant, entitled and exploitative, narcissists are also fascinating.

And not just from a clinical perspective; the research finds that we are strangely drawn to their self-centred personalities, their dominance and their hostility, their sensitivity and their despair, at least for a while.

Continue reading “Why We Love Narcissists (At First)”

Brian Blackwell and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Brian BlackwellThis week the teenager who received a life sentence for murdering his parents, turned media attention to a little known psychiatric diagnosis called narcissistic personality disorder. One of the most shocking things about the case seems to be that Blackwell had no trace of a ‘troubled background’, and the media were left searching for reasons for an unreasonable act.

In The Times Minette Marin wondered whether Blackwell was at the mercy of his genes. Ultimately this is a question of free will – do we really have the power to make our own decisions or do we simply carry out the bidding of our genes and environment?

It’s easy and very common to set up this ‘either’, ‘or’ question, despite the fact it doesn’t help work out what is going on here. A more useful thought is to imagine a sliding scale of free will, where perhaps some people have more free will than others.

Along similar lines, The Observer discussed how parents may feel they have little control over how their children turn out. This, however, is something that psychologists have recognised already – finding that it is a child’s peers who have the largest effect on personality development.

The Telegraph pointed out that narcissistic personality disorder is more of an American construct than a British one – along with the suggestion everyone is narcissistic to a certain extent.

This point brings out the most important problem with so-called personality disorders and their diagnosis. The categories are often fairly arbitrary, culturally defined and not widely agreed upon. Personality disorders are sliding scales, not on or off categories, and many of the categories themselves have very fuzzy boundaries.

In addition, most of the personality disorders recognised by psychiatrists in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders show high levels of comorbidity. In other words if you’re diagnosed with one, then you’re likely to be diagnosed with others as well. It all comes down to the convenience of giving someone a label.

Bear that in mind as you read BBC News’ description of narcissistic personality disorder.
BBC News

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