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Grandiose Narcissists are Mentally Tough and Have Less Stress, Depression

New research reveals that people with grandiose narcissism have greater mental toughness, a trait which can also offset symptoms of depression. They also have lower levels of perceived stress and are therefore less likely to view their lives as stressful.

The research is a new approach to the study of personality and psychopathology, highlighting that there may be some positives of grandiose narcissism in terms of potential societal impact.

“Narcissism is part of the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy and Sadism,” said Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou, who is Director of the InteRRaCt Lab in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast in the U.K.

“There are two main dimensions to narcissism — grandiose and vulnerable. Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behaviour of others as hostile whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power.”

While narcissism is viewed by many in society as a negative personality trait, Papageorgiou’s research suggests that it could have evolutionary benefits.

“This work promotes diversity and inclusiveness of people and ideas by advocating that dark traits, such as narcissism, should not be seen as either good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that may be beneficial or harmful depending on the context,” said Papageorgiou.

“This move forward may help to reduce the marginalisation of individuals that score higher than average on the dark traits. It could also facilitate the development of research-informed suggestions on how best to cultivate some manifestations of these traits, while discouraging others, for the collective good.”

Papageorgiou has published two papers on narcissism and psychopathology in Personality and Individual Differences and European Psychiatry.

“Individuals high on the spectrum of dark traits, such as narcissism, engage in risky behaviour, hold an unrealistic superior view of themselves, are overconfident, show little empathy for others, and have little shame or guilt,” said Papageorgiou. “However, what this research has questioned is — if narcissism, as an example of the dark tetrad, is indeed so socially toxic, why does it persist and why is it on the rise in modern societies?”

The papers include three independent studies, each involving more than 700 adults in total and highlight some positive sides of narcissism, such as resilience against symptoms of psychopathology.

A key finding of the research was that grandiose narcissism can increase mental toughness and this can help to offset symptoms of depression. And those who score high on grandiose narcissism have lower levels of perceived stress and are therefore less likely to view their lives as stressful.

“The results from all the studies that we conducted show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components of mental toughness, such as confidence and goal orientation, protecting against symptoms of depression and perceived stress,” said Papageorgiou.

“This research really helps to explain variation in symptoms of depression in society — if a person is more mentally tough they are likely to embrace challenges head on, rather than viewing them as a hurdle.”

“While of course not all dimensions of narcissism are good, certain aspects can lead to positive outcomes.”

Source: Queen’s University Belfast

Grandiose Narcissists are Mentally Tough and Have Less Stress, Depression

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2019). Grandiose Narcissists are Mentally Tough and Have Less Stress, Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/11/15/grandiose-narcissists-are-mentally-tough-and-have-less-stress-depression/151539.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Nov 2019 (Originally: 15 Nov 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Nov 2019
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