Narcissism Empirical Studies

Within psychology, there are two main branches of research into narcissism, clinical and social psychology. These approaches differ in their view of narcissism with the former treating it as a disorder, thus as discrete, and the latter treating it as a personality trait, thus as a continuum.

These two strands of research tend loosely to stand in a divergent relation to one another, although they converge in places.

Campbell and Foster (2007) review the literature on narcissism. They argue that narcissists possess the following ‘basic ingredients’:

  • Positive. Narcissists think they are better than others.
  • Inflated. Narcissists’ views tend to be contrary to reality. In measures which compare self-report to objective measures, narcissists' self-views tend to be greatly exaggerated.
  • Agentic. Narcissists’ views tend to be most exaggerated in the agentic domain, relative to the communion domain..
  • Selfish. Research upon narcissists’ behaviour in resource dilemmas supports the case for narcissists as being selfish.
  • Oriented toward success. Narcissists are oriented towards success by being, for example, approach oriented

Also, narcissists tend to demonstrate a lack of interest in warm and caring interpersonal relationships. Campbell and Forster (2007) who conducted a study in which two experiments were conducted.

In both experiments, participants took part an achievement task following which they were provided with false feedback; it was either bogus success or failure. It was found that both narcissists and non-narcissists self-enhanced, but non-narcissists showed more flexibility in doing so. Participants were measured on both a comparative and a non-comparative self-enhancement strategy.

It was found that both narcissists and non-narcissists employed the non-comparative strategy similarly; however, narcissists were found to be more self-serving with the comparative strategy, employing it far more, than non-narcissists, suggesting a greater rigidity with their self-enhancement.

When narcissists receive negative feedback which threatens the self, they will self-enhance at all costs whereas non-narcissists tend to have limits.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Narcissism" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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