Who hangs out with a narcissist? Study suggests it’s other narcissists

Narcissists may be less repelled by other narcissists, a recent study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests.

Given how challenging a friendship with a narcissist may be (in this case, grandiose narcissists, not those described as vulnerable narcissists), researchers were interested in examining: who hangs out with a narcissist?  Lead study author Ulrike MaaB and colleagues sought to answer whether friends of narcissists shared similar narcissistic traits.

Key features of narcissism include a sense of entitlement, arrogance, inflated self-importance, and lack of empathy; interpersonal relationships are hugely impacted by such narcissistic needs.

While on the surface it may appear that narcissists are self-confident and poised, in reality, a narcissist experiences a truckload of negative self-concept, resulting in an unreasonable need for self-acceptance. To achieve this self-acceptance, a narcissist will manipulate and engage in excessive self-promotion, usually by alienating others.

To measure personality traits, the Big Five (extraversion, agreeableness, openness,conscientiousness and neuroticism) was used, while several assessments were used to measure narcissism and associated traits.

Three menacing traits, narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathology, comprise the “Dark Triad” of personality; each of these constructs were measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, the Machiavellianism Scale, and the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale–III, respectively.

A total of 290 pairs of friends participated in the study, and each participant responded to the Big Five and Dark Triad assessments. Big Five results (general score and domain scores) indicated that friends had comparable degrees of narcissism, demonstrating that similarities in narcissism follow similarities in the Big Five profile, implying that “narcissists of a feather flock together.”

Additional findings found a connection with Machiavellianism and psychopathology and Big Five results (on general scores and neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness domain scores; no connection to the domains of openness to experience and experience was shown).

What conclusions can be drawn? Essentially, narcissistic traits in others are comfortable for a narcissist, with a tolerance for traits based on shared similarities. These similarities also play a role in the self-regulatory needs of narcissists, or how narcissists are motivated to mask an underlying poor self-concept. While those without narcissistic traits, such as self-promotion or devaluing others, find little appeal in these traits, “two narcissist best friends will probably not threaten each other’s ego.”


  1. I don’t like this photo you use here. Taking photos of yourself and your friends (and posting them on social media) is mainstream behavior now, and doesn’t have anything to do with narcissism anyway except in the superficial “drive-by diagnosis” sense.

    Calling that “narcissistic” shows a deep misunderstanding of what darkness narcissism really is – even somebody who posts a lot on social media and cares a lot about it compared to the average now is UNLIKELY to be narcissistic.

    • All you’re really saying is that narcissism is now becoming mainstream so it’s okay to selfie it up all the time, and that only hardcore narcissists are real narcissists now.

      Out of 10 of my friends only 1 will be posting shots like this. Guess which one is the most narcissistic

        • Trevo Struefbuge on

          Well, you know what they say, “It take one to know one,” or at least to grow into a man “who was abused by a narcissistic parent.”

          Please enlighten me as to exactly what narcissism and the “darkness narcissism really is,” I’d love to “get a grip.”

          • Trevo Struefbuge on

            No, I typed it, and I don’t expect you’re capable of reading, you Valley lookin’ wannabe choad. Bet your sister there has a blast typing your responses for ya.

          • What does “valley looking” mean, you divorced retard who literally works at Big Lots and lives in Denver and has 4 friends in the world?

            There are a lot of valleys.

          • Trevo Struefbuge on

            So many valleys…and you setup shop in the valley of stupidity.

            On a non-aggravating note I really do sincerely feel for you if your were raised by narcissists, I know how much that can suck. You can find a lot of great support on reddit’s /r/raisedbynarcissists but it suffers the same problem you’re talking about, so many of the posts aren’t worth reading.

            It is true that so many people don’t have any idea of what actual narcissism looks like. If you’d like to bring your experience to the table to help others, that subreddit is great place to do so.

    • Trevo Struefbuge on

      Great addition to the conversation there, Mike. That picture definitely throws off the whole study. They should have included a picture of someone posting their negative opinion of a picture used to head an article about a scientific study.

      • Oh man seriously, you think it’s narcissistic to post an opinion about something as a grown man who was abused by a narcissistic parent?

        Get a grip dude. Posting photos of yourself on social media and narcissism are only related in the mind of people like you who think that caring and sharing what other people think are narcissistic traits. If you think having an opinion about a photo makes me a narcissist, you use the word too much.

        • Trevo Struefbuge on

          I was actually pointing to how your comment on the picture has as little to do with the article as the picture itself, then finishing it up with my own obviously inaccurate, unrelated opinion about what I was commenting on. Don’t worry though, using easily refuted insults as a way to distract narcissists from what one is actually poking fun at is a time tested (and demonstrably effective) method that I’ve learned. One time, my father beat me with a pair of jumper cables for talking disrespectfully about law enforcement, so I waited until he was drunk and reported a domestic disturbance. When I heard the cops pull up I hurled a pair of jumper cables at him. He wasn’t happy when the police arrested him for trying to beat me for it. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh?

    • Ronald McMexico on

      Actually, if they post tons of selfies they probably are narcassists who have low self esteem and need others to think they are cool.
      And it may only be the norm in your group of friends. And they might all be narcissists 🙂 yay!