Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D.

Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D.

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Narcissists are unpopular...in different ways

Narcissists are unpopular; the type of narcissism dictates how that manifests.

Posted Oct 24, 2014

Regardless of the first impression narcissists make, over time their nature and personalities come out to the people they know well. Earlier research has shown that narcissists are often disliked by people who know them, since they frequently denigrate others in order to maintain high opinions of themselves.  A new study looks at two types of narcissism and how that dislike manifests in their social networks [1].

The first type is grandiose narcissism, in which people tend to be entitled and believe they are superior. These narcissists are often extroverted, charming, but also disagreeable. They may initially come off as confident and impressive, but eventually their lack of regard for others fuels dislike from others. Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, have a "defensive and insecure sense of grandiosity". These people tend to be aloof, hostile, and arrogant.

Researchers looked at groups of students who all knew each other well. The students nominated people they "liked" or "disliked" in their group. They could list as many or as few people in each category as they wanted.

The results? Both types of narcissists were highly disliked by their peers, and the narcissists also disliked many peers. There were differences between the two types of narcissists, too. Students who were grandiose narcissists were frequently nominated in the "dislike" category. Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, were not actively disliked but they also had very few "like" nominations.

So even though both types of narcissists were socially maladjusted, grandiosity engendered more active disliking. The implications? Aside from the insight itself, the researchers suggest that narcissists could actually help unite social groups. A shared dislike of the narcissists they know may be a factor that brings people closer than they would otherwise be.

[1] Czarna, Anna Z., Michael Dufner, and Allan D. Clifton. "The effects of vulnerable and grandiose narcissism on liking-based and disliking-based centrality in social networks." Journal of Research in Personality 50 (2014): 42-45.

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