A surprising study has just appeared in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology about whether narcissists realise what others think about their egotistical self-image.
Narcissism is a trait where people are more concerned about themselves than others and tend to think they are better and more important than their peers.
This has often been considered to be a form of self-delusion or self-serving cognitive bias, while this new study deliberately tested whether highly narcissistic realised what others thought about them.
The study came to the surprising conclusion that narcissism is usually accompanied by a crystal clear insight into how others don’t share the shining view that narcissists have of themselves.
You probably think this paper’s about you: Narcissists’ perceptions of their personality and reputation
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 May 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Carlson EN, Vazire S, Oltmanns TF.
Do narcissists have insight into the negative aspects of their personality and reputation? Using both clinical and subclinical measures of narcissism, the authors examined others’ perceptions, self-perceptions, and meta-perceptions of narcissists across a wide range of traits for a new acquaintance and close other (Study 1), longitudinally with a group of new acquaintances (Study 2), and among coworkers (Study 3).
Results bring 3 surprising conclusions about narcissists: (a) they understand that others see them less positively than they see themselves (i.e., their meta-perceptions are less biased than are their self-perceptions), (b) they have some insight into the fact that they make positive first impressions that deteriorate over time, and (c) they have insight into their narcissistic personality (e.g., they describe themselves as arrogant). These findings shed light on some of the psychological mechanisms underlying narcissism.
Link to PubMed entry for study.