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Narcissism Examined

Some traditional views of narcissism hold that the inflated ego, the constant need for attention and the unfounded sense of entitlement result from an individual’s unconscious self-loathing. However, new research suggests narcissists actually have a very positive self-view of themselves.

University of Georgia and University of South Florida researchers publish their findings in the March issue of Psychological Science, stating that narcissists do not uniformly dislike themselves “deep down inside.”

Previous studies have shown that narcissists’ conscious self-views are not uniformly positive. Narcissists see themselves as being above average in areas such as status, dominance and intelligence (what are referred to as agentic domains), but not in areas such as kindness, morality, and emotional intimacy (what are referred to as communal domains).

Following that line of thought, the researchers in this study tested the link between narcissism and unconscious self-views in these agentic and communal domains.

Conventional wisdom suggests that narcissism would have negative self-views. In other words, narcissists’ should unconsciously dislike themselves equally from their intelligence to their level of intimacy in relationships. Narcissists, however, had positive unconscious self-views on the agentic (but not communal) domains.

Study authors used an Implicit Association Test to assess the participant’s underlying views on their self-esteem. Essentially, the test works by recording reaction times to computer-based word associations and relies on the notion that the participants are not aware that their self-esteem is being assessed while they are taking the test. This test was tailored to measure narcissism as it relates to agency, communion, and self-esteem.

Narcissists reported positive unconscious self-views in agentic domains and not in communal areas. This study provides new evidence that narcissists exhibit a somewhat imbalanced self at both conscious and unconscious levels.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Narcissism Examined

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Narcissism Examined. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/02/28/narcissism-examined/654.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.