The Narcissism Thread

A study reported today that shows that narcissistic children do better at school.

Narcissists might be irritating attention seekers - but they are also annoyingly likely to be successful, according to researchers.

Even though their personality traits might seem negative, psychologists say their sense of superiority gives them a "mental toughness" not to give up.

An international team of researchers says narcissists tend to come out on top in education, work and romance.

Their "heightened sense of self-worth" gives them great self-confidence.

I am not convinced by the argument that narcissists are "mentally tough". More the complete opposite surely?

But apparently its now a good thing.

If we could abandon conventional social morality - and just focus on what is successful," he says, then narcissism can look like a very "positive" trait.

Ummm, lets not..
How would that turn out, if everybody was a narcissist?
It could only end badly.
A study reported today that shows that narcissistic children do better at school. I am not convinced by the argument that narcissists are "mentally tough". More the complete opposite surely? But apparently its now a good thing. Ummm, lets not..

I completely agree with you Min. Narcissists are psychologically brittle people who are often filled with great reservoirs of jealousy and self loathing. If the school environment is seeing success from narcissists, then we need to change the school environment, not encourage narcissism. There are few human behaviors more ultimately toxic than narcissism.
From the cited article (emphasis added) ...

But Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, from Queen's University Belfast, says research shows that narcissists are often socially successful and undeterred by rejection and their craving for attention can make them "charming" and highly motivated.

The key here is the characterization of advantage solely with respect to 'social' success. This doesn't imply that narcissists are more adept than others at anything other than establishing and / or maintaining a social status, or perhaps the appearance thereof.
The key here is the characterization of advantage solely with respect to 'social' success. This doesn't imply that narcissists are more adept than others at anything other than establishing and / or maintaining a social status, or perhaps the appearance thereof.
But strangely it did.

Using a sample of more than 300 young people identified as narcissists in secondary school in Italy, the researchers found that they tended to score much better in exams than would have been expected from other tests of their intelligence.

Psychologists said that as well as traits such as egotism and the need to dominate, these narcissists had high levels of resilience and determination.

They were not cleverer, but were more confident and assertive and were able to overtake students who otherwise would have more ability.

I am not sure that makes sense to me but maybe they are secretly cramming in order to prove that they are the best.
This is the first study I've seen that attempts to assess narcissism (or at least key components thereof) at two points in life.
Narcissism tracked from young adulthood to middle age

The belief that one is smarter, better looking, more successful and more deserving than others -- a personality trait known as narcissism -- tends to wane as a person matures, a new study confirms. But not for everyone, and not to the same extent.

The study, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finds that the magnitude of the decline in narcissism between young adulthood and middle age is related to the specific career and personal relationship choices a person makes.

The research tracked participants across two time points. The first occurred when they were 18 and just starting out as freshmen at the University of California, Berkeley. The second was 23 years later, when participants were 41 years old. Of the original 486 participants, 237 completed a new round of evaluations.

Participants at both time points answered questions from a survey designed to assess their narcissistic traits. For the follow-up study, researchers also asked about relationship and employment history, job satisfaction, and health and well-being.

"We looked at the different facets of narcissism in adults at age 18 and again at 41" ... "We focused on participants' vanity, the belief in their own leadership qualities and their tendency to feel entitled."

Each facet of narcissism was associated with several negative -- and in a few cases, positive -- outcomes for the individual, the researchers found. Those who had higher levels of vanity at age 18 were prone to unstable relationships and marriages, and were more likely to be divorced by middle age. But they also reported better health at age 41. In contrast, those who felt the most entitled as young adults reported more negative life events and tended to have lower well-being and life satisfaction at middle age.

"We originally hypothesized that the leadership facet of narcissism would increase," Roberts said. "In fairness to my co-authors, that hypothesis was mine, and it turns out I was wrong." ...

"We know from past research that another component of personality, assertiveness, tends to increase during this time of life," he said. "So, I thought it was reasonable to hypothesize a similar increase in the leadership facet. This either means the past research is wrong, or our read of the leadership component of narcissism is wrong -- it may actually be more negative than we thought. We have to figure this out in future research."

Vanity appeared to be most strongly linked to life events, the researchers found. For example, vanity declined more in those who entered into serious romantic relationships and those with children. But vanity declined significantly less in middle-aged adults who had experienced more negative life events than their peers.

"We also found that narcissistic young adults were more likely to end up in supervisory jobs 23 years later, suggesting that selfish, arrogant individuals are rewarded with more powerful organizational roles" ... "Further, individuals who supervised others decreased less in narcissism from young adulthood to middle age -- meaning that supervisory roles helped maintain prior levels of narcissism."

Despite the differences between individuals, most of the participants who responded to researchers' questions again at age 41 saw a decline in narcissism as they matured, the researchers found.

"Very few people, only 3% of participants, actually increased in overall narcissism between the ages of 18 and 41," Wetzel said. "And some remained just as narcissistic at age 41 as they had been when they were 18 years old." ...

PREPRINT Of The Published Paper:
This latest / largest survey study failed to identify a linkage between being an only child and a narcissistic personality.
Large-Scale Study Rules Out a Common Assumption About 'Narcissistic' Only Children

You might have heard the idea that being an only child means you're more likely to be selfish, spoilt, and self-centred – but the results of a new study show no link between being an only child and being more narcissistic.

It's an important finding for parents and policy makers alike – whether you're in charge of a single family unit or the strategy of an entire country.

Previous studies on the issue have been inconclusive, but the researchers behind the new analysis say it ticks all the boxes: a large sample, a representative sample, and built-in allowances for other variables (such as gender and socioeconomic status).

"Some of the past research has reported no difference between only children and non-only children in terms of narcissism and some of the past research has reported such a difference," says psychologist Michael Dufner, from the University of Leipzig in Germany.

"We can now say with rather high confidence that only children are not substantially more narcissistic than people with siblings." ...
Makes sense really. Otherwise you would see enormous narcissism in for example China were most people are only children and I am pretty sure that is not the case.
This newly-published research suggests narcissists don't learn from prior errors as a result of how they skew their own hindsight bias.
Here's Why Narcissists Never Really Learn From Their Mistakes

Sometimes even those with narcissistic tendencies don't like looking in the mirror. New research has found that people who excessively approve of themselves are unwilling to reflect on their mistakes.

When something unforeseen and unfortunate happens, a narcissist appears less inclined to ask, "What could I have done differently?" and more inclined to throw up their hands and cry, "No one could have seen this coming!"

At first, this might sound like a humble statement for a narcissist. It's certainly more modest than claiming you knew it all along (a concept known as hindsight bias).

But when someone's predictions have been clearly proved wrong, the researchers behind the latest study suggest narcissists go into self-protection mode and start blaming it on the unpredictability of the universe.

"We argue that, due to their exaggerated self-enhancement and self-protection tendencies, narcissists show stronger hindsight bias when their predictions are accurate and a reverse hindsight bias when their predictions are inaccurate, both of which harm their learning and future decision making," the authors of the new study argue. ...

Here are the bibliographic details and abstract for the research study ...

When and Why Narcissists Exhibit Greater Hindsight Bias and Less Perceived Learning
Satoris S. Howes, Edgar E. Kausel, Alexander T. Jackson, Jochen Reb
Journal of Management
First Published June 4, 2020
Research Article

The present research sought to examine the impact of narcissism, prediction accuracy, and should counterfactual thinking—which includes thoughts such as “I should have done something different”—on hindsight bias (the tendency to exaggerate in hindsight what one knew in foresight) and perceived learning. To test these effects, we conducted four studies (total n = 727). First, in Study 1 we examined a moderated mediation model, in which should counterfactual thinking mediates the relation between narcissism and hindsight bias, and this mediation is moderated by prediction accuracy such that the relationship is negative when predictions are accurate and positive when predictions are inaccurate after accurate predictions. Second, in Study 2 we examined a moderated sequential mediation model, in which the relation between narcissism and perceived learning is sequentially mediated through should counterfactual thinking and hindsight bias, and importantly, this sequential mediation is moderated by prediction accuracy. In Study 3 we ruled out could counterfactual thinking as an alternative explanation for the relationship between narcissism and hindsight bias. Finally, by manipulating should counterfactual thinking in Study 4, our findings suggest that this type of thinking has a causal effect on hindsight bias. We discuss why exhibiting some hindsight bias can be positive after failure. We also discuss implications for eliciting should counterfactual thinking. Our results help explain why narcissists may fail to learn from their experiences.

I'm going to presume this isn't a very subtle and dry April Fools' gag ...

Newly reported research suggests narcissists are driven by insecurity and feelings of low self-worth.
There Are Two Types of Narcissist, And The Difference Is Crucial, Researchers Say

In a time when flaunting your best self on social media has become a norm, narcissistic traits seem to be everywhere.

In today's slang, off-putting behaviors like entitlement, superiority and self-congratulating are known as 'flexing'. Such traits might be more common these days, but being narcissistic is still seen as a pathological personality trait, akin to being sadistic, manipulative, or even psychopathic.

However, a new study of 270 people with a median age of 20 lends more credit to the notion that narcissistic behaviors are not always driven by the same things as psychopathy.

"For a long time, it was unclear why narcissists engage in unpleasant behaviors, such as self-congratulation, as it actually makes others think less of them. Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure," said clinical psychologist Pascal Wallisch from New York University (NYU).

"More specifically, the results suggest that narcissism is better understood as a compensatory adaptation to overcome and cover up low self-worth," added clinical psychologist Mary Kowalchyk, also from NYU. ...

I'm going to presume this isn't a very subtle and dry April Fools' gag ...

Newly reported research suggests narcissists are driven by insecurity and feelings of low self-worth.


Not 100% sure but I’m sure some cosmetically engineered trout pout influencer who’s editing her pics to make her waist thinner than Barbie and her bum bigger than Kim Kardashian while on a ‘vital work-related trip to Dubai’ may have issues with self esteem. Mind you, I am not an expert in Fuckwittery.

I’m on on ‘Only Fans’ by the way. It’s really quite tasteful.
This meta-analysis of worldwide data found strong correlations between narcissism and aggression / violence. The results were so consistent as to suggest the linkage pertains "across the board."
Narcissism Linked to Aggression – Study Found Relationship “Across the Board” All Over the World

A comprehensive analysis of 437 studies from around the world provides the best evidence to date that narcissism is an important risk factor for both aggression and violence, researchers said.

The link between narcissism and aggression was found for all dimensions of narcissism and for a variety of types of aggression. Results were similar regardless of gender, age, whether they were college students, or country of residence.

And, to have an impact, narcissism doesn’t have to be at levels so high as to be pathological. Findings showed that even when narcissism was within what is considered a normal range, higher levels were linked to aggression. ...

“It is a pretty straightforward message: Narcissism is a significant risk factor for aggressive and violent behavior across the board” ...

“The link we found between narcissism and aggression was significant – it was not trivial in size” ... “The findings have important real-world implications.”

The researchers combined and analyzed data from many studies to provide a comprehensive view of this research area. In this meta-analysis, they examined data from 437 independent studies with a total of 123,043 participants. ...

Narcissism was related to all forms of aggression measured in the studies the researchers analyzed, including physical, verbal, bullying, direct or indirect, and displaced onto innocent targets. ...
Here are the bibliographic details and the abstract from the narcissism / aggression study article (which is awaiting final publication).

Kjærvik, S. L., & Bushman, B. J. (2021).
The link between narcissism and aggression: A meta-analytic review.
Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication.

This meta-analytic review examines the link between narcissism and aggression, and whether the link is stronger under provocation conditions. A total of 437 independent studies were located, which included 123,043 participants. Narcissism was related to both aggression (r = .26, [.24, .28]) and violence (r = .23, [.18, .27]). As expected, the narcissism-aggression link was stronger under provocation conditions (r = .29, [.23, .36]) than under no provocation conditions (r = .12, [.05, .18]), but was even significant in the absence of provocation. Both “normal” and “pathological” narcissism were related to aggression. All three dimensions of narcissism (i.e., entitlement, grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism) were related to aggression. Narcissism was related to all forms of aggression (i.e., indirect, direct, displaced, physical, verbal, bullying), and to both functions of aggression (i.e., reactive, proactive). The relation between narcissism and aggression was significant for males and females, for people of all ages, for students and nonstudents, and for people from individualistic and collectivistic countries. Significant results were obtained in experimental, cross-sectional, and longitudinal studies, in published and unpublished studies, and in studies that assessed aggression using different types of measures (i.e., self-report, other-report, observation). Overall results were robust to publication bias and the presence of outliers. Theoretically, these results indicate that provocation is a key moderator of the link between narcissism and aggression. Individuals high in narcissism have “thin skins” and are prone to aggression when they are provoked. Practically, these results suggest that narcissism is an important risk factor for aggression and violence.

Narcissists seem drawn to conspiracy theories. Newly published research attempts to explain how and why this is.
Narcissists Seem Drawn to Conspiracy Theories, But Why?

Previous research shows that people identified as narcissists – those with an inflated sense of their own importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for attention – are more likely to be drawn to and believe in conspiracy theories.

A new study offers up four reasons why, based on an analysis of earlier studies: feelings of paranoia, gullibility regarding claims about what is true or otherwise, the need for dominance, and the need for uniqueness. They can all play a part in establishing this link between narcissists and conspiracy theories.

The researchers suggest that each of these psychological processes is linked to different components that make up narcissism.

Those components include agentic extraversion (attempting to boost the ego and gain admiration through charm and fantasizing), antagonism (being arrogant, exploitative, and entitled), and neuroticism (experiencing low self-esteem and shame).

"We argue that each of these components of narcissism might predispose people to endorse conspiracy theories due to different psychological processes," write the researchers in their published paper. ...

That's really interesting and in a way, I'm not surprised. My ex partner was very high on the narcissism scale and was really into conspiracy theories.
I've noticed that those people who seem to get most into conspiracy theories are those who either lack control over their real lives, or who seek to impose control over others, so this makes sense. Conspiracy theories tend to try to find reasons and planning behind events that were (in my view) random 'shit happens' or 'sometimes people do random shit' things, but those who actively WANT a sense that the world is really ordered need to believe otherwise. So a narcissist believing conspiracy theories makes sense. Of course, what makes more sense is narcissists actually STARTING conspiracy theories.
There's also the possibility (I'd say probability ... ) that a certain sense of ego-gratification comes from believing you know the "real story behind the public story", and this fits into (and feeds ... ) the narcissist's attitude of self-anointed superiority.
There's also the possibility (I'd say probability ... ) that a certain sense of ego-gratification comes from believing you know the "real story behind the public story", and this fits into (and feeds ... ) the narcissist's attitude of self-anointed superiority.
And the rarer and more outlandish the story, the more they get out of feeling that 'only they know...'

Also if you read some Conspiracy threads on fora, the mental gymnastics that some believers put themselves through seem to mark out those whose personality is - well, slightly off-kilter.
I am not a clinical psychologist, but the two people I have known who seem to narcissists, also believed in various conspiracy theories in different areas of their lives: monitoring by the government, lies by the media, manipulation of the common people through income taxes and prices on food, etc.

As others here have noted, they seemed to enjoy a self-image of being smarter than others, and not being taken in by common beliefs. One would unplug her television set when not in use, and cover it up so the government could not spy on her in her home. Neither could stand any mild challenge or discussion of their beliefs.
There's also the possibility (I'd say probability ... ) that a certain sense of ego-gratification comes from believing you know the "real story behind the public story", and this fits into (and feeds ... ) the narcissist's attitude of self-anointed superiority.

I always think of this as 'special knowledge syndrome'. I think it's pretty common among certain types of conspiracy theorist, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it dovetailed very comfortably with other recognised symptoms of the true narcissist. I do wonder though if beyond this point there's a split between those who want the warm satisfaction of everybody agreeing with them, and those who would actually be incredibly hacked off should their once exclusive 'knowledge' suddenly become the accepted norm, and therefore no longer exclusive.
I'm going to presume this isn't a very subtle and dry April Fools' gag ...

Newly reported research suggests narcissists are driven by insecurity and feelings of low self-worth.

Well worth a read, this paper. the PDF is free here:

I suspect the issue here is that different types of behaviour have been labelled with the same term, 'narcissism', and this paper is unpicking this somewhat.
I thought the link between narcissism and conspiracy believers was obvious.
It builds into their self-esteem in many ways.
Firstly, it makes them "special" and "not like all you sheeple!" They have the TRUTH unlike you other lesser mortals.
Secondly, the more outlandish the theory the more likely they'll be derided. And this almost reinforces their self-aggrandisement. After all, the 'stupids' are only attacking them because they are jealous of their privileged status.
Thirdly, their supposed knowledge of the truth puts them in the same league as those who run the conspiracies. "Hah. You may fool the plebs but I saw through you immediately. Can I join your club now?"
The science behind this discussion about narcissism is way beyond my ability to interpret. However, it seems to me that narcissism, other pathologies, and their expression through conspiracy theory, social manipulation, etc., can lead to people jumping to convenient conclusions. At least, that is my favorite kind of conclusion. (Who wants an inconvenient conclusion?)

I suspect that a Venn diagram would be useful to show that not all conspiracy theorists are narcissists; not all narcissists are conspiracy theorists; narcissism and other pathologies intersect; and so on.

It may be that I have known many narcissists, mainly through work, but never labelled them as such because I am not a psychologist. The labels I use to give to people are based on their perceived actions and implied motivations. This very convenient lumper strategy, as opposed to a splitter strategy, is easier for me to implement without a lot of worry that I may be misjudging someone.

So, simply:
Bad actions, bad probable motivations = bad person. Avoid if possible. Fewest number of colleagues.
Bad actions, probably good intentions = mixed up person. Avoid if possible; treat with caution.
Good actions, probably bad intentions = WTF? May be manipulative. Avoid if possible; treat with caution.
Good actions, good intentions = good person who is reliable, conscientious, etc. Wonderful colleague! Greatest number of colleagues.
Well worth a read, this paper. the PDF is free here:

I suspect the issue here is that different types of behaviour have been labelled with the same term, 'narcissism', and this paper is unpicking this somewhat.
I felt compelled to read this paper a bit more carefully. Firstly have some fun with these tests for Dark Triad and Psychopathy, which are free.

Rosenberg's Self-esteem Scale (RSES)​

Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP)​

I’ve understood for a while that there is a difference between narcissism as a trait and narcissism as a pathology. Having read the appear more critically it's saying this:

There are people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD, ‘narcissists’) and people who exhibit narcissism (narcissistic behaviours) who are not NPD.

The latter are generally covering for a self image that doesn't match up with reality.

NPD people don’t cover up insecurities because they don’t have any. There is no doubt in their mind they are who they think they are. I read a paper recently that literally showed that those with NPD don’t learn from their mistakes because they don’t believe they make any. In fact, faced with 100% compelling evidence they are wrong, they may even sacrifice themselves to preserve their self-identity and they’ll certainly sacrifice others.


There are narcissists, ‘classic’ or NPD. Narciss1st. Always, 100%, putting themselves 1st.

There are other people who exhibit narcissistic behaviour. We might call this ‘narcissism’. I feel we need a new word for the latter.

Possibly the latter are more often dangerous as they will proactively affirm their self-identity with aggression towards anyone who reminds them of the gap between their self-identity and ‘reality’, as they are an existential threat. This threat could be caused by someone's very presence alone.

One might threaten a NPD person, but unless the threat is seriously material, like ‘jail time’ or ‘outing’ they simply won’t care about what you think, but will be proactively aggressive to further their goals.

This paper supports this notion regarding the difference in the propensity to violence in narcissists and those displaying narcissism:

Amad, S., Gray, N. S., & Snowden, R. J. (2021). Self-esteem, narcissism, and aggression: Different types of self-esteem predict different types of aggression. Journal of interpersonal violence, 36(23-24), NP13296-NP13313.

This paper digs bit deeper into the topic (the topic is well researched tbf), and underpins the basic idea that those who exhibit narcissistic behaviours AND have low self esteem tend towards reactive aggression, with anger and hostility (I dislike the use of the word ‘provoked’ in this regard, as it suggests some proactive act, whereas just 'turning up' can do it)

Narciss1sts who have high self esteem, that is with NPD, will tend towards proactive, deliberate, planned aggression if you happen to be between them and their goal.