We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
Narcissism Isn't Driven by an Inflated Sense of Self
News

Narcissism Isn't Driven by an Inflated Sense of Self

Narcissism Isn't Driven by an Inflated Sense of Self
News

Narcissism Isn't Driven by an Inflated Sense of Self

Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Narcissism Isn't Driven by an Inflated Sense of Self"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

Narcissism is driven by insecurity, and not an inflated sense of self, finds a new study, which offers a more detailed understanding of this long-examined phenomenon and may also explain what motivates the self-focused nature of social media activity.

Narcissism is driven by insecurity, and not an inflated sense of self, finds a new study by a team of psychology researchers. Its research, which offers a more detailed understanding of this long-examined phenomenon, may also explain what motivates the self-focused nature of social media activity.

“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,” explains Pascal Wallisch, a clinical associate professor in both New York University’s Department of Psychology and Center for Data Science and the senior author of the paper, which appears in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. “This has become quite prevalent in the age of social media—a behavior that’s been coined ‘flexing’. 

“Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure, and this is how they seem to cope with their insecurities.”

“More specifically, the results suggest that narcissism is better understood as a compensatory adaptation to overcome and cover up low self-worth,” adds Mary Kowalchyk, the paper’s lead author and an NYU graduate student at the time of the study. “Narcissists are insecure, and they cope with these insecurities by flexing. This makes others like them less in the long run, thus further aggravating their insecurities, which then leads to a vicious cycle of flexing behaviors.”

The survey’s nearly 300 participants—approximately 60 percent female and 40 percent male—had a median age of 20 and answered 151 questions via computer.

The researchers examined Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), conceptualized as excessive self-love and consisting of two subtypes, known as grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. A related affliction, psychopathy, is also characterized by a grandiose sense of self. They sought to refine the understanding of how these conditions relate.

To do so, they designed a novel measure, called PRISN (Performative Refinement to soothe Insecurities about SophisticatioN), which produced FLEX (perFormative seLf-Elevation indeX). FLEX captures insecurity-driven self-conceptualizations that are manifested as impression management, leading to self-elevating tendencies.

The PRISN scale includes commonly used measures to investigate social desirability (“No matter who I am talking to I am a good listener”), self-esteem (“On the whole, I am satisfied with myself”), and psychopathy (“I tend to lack remorse”). FLEX was shown to be made up of four components: impression management (“I am likely to show off if I get the chance”), the need for social validation (“It matters that I am seen at important events''), self-elevation (“I have exquisite taste”), and social dominance (“I like knowing more than other people”).

Overall, the results showed high correlations between FLEX and narcissism—but not with psychopathy. For example, the need for social validation (a FLEX metric) correlated with the reported tendency to engage in performative self-elevation (a characteristic of vulnerable narcissism). By contrast, measures of psychopathy, such as elevated levels of self-esteem, showed low correlation levels with vulnerable narcissism, implying a lack of insecurity. These findings suggest that genuine narcissists are insecure and are best described by the vulnerable narcissism subtype, whereas grandiose narcissism might be better understood as a manifestation of psychopathy. 

Reference:

Kowalchyk M, Palmieri H, Conte E, Wallisch P. Narcissism through the lens of performative self-elevation. Personality and Individual Differences. 2021;177:110780. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2021.110780          

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Advertisement