New research published in An International Journal of Theory and Research has found that individuals with heightened narcissistic admiration tend to have higher self-esteem as well as higher perceived status and inclusion. Heightened narcissistic rivalry, on the other hand, is indirectly associated with negative self-esteem.
The findings shed light on how different narcissistic personality features interact with social perceptions to predict self-worth.
Narcissism is characterized as feelings of entitlement, grandiosity, and lack of empathy for others. While many people assume that narcissism is associated with high self-esteem, the research is inconclusive. Analyzing two different types of narcissism – narcissistic admiration and narcissistic rivalry – may help address the ambiguity regarding the relationship between narcissism and self-esteem.
Narcissistic admiration is a form of narcissism that involves assertive self-enhancement and self-promotion. Narcissistic rivalry is a form of narcissism that involves self-protection and self-defense.
Researchers Virgil Zeigler-Hill and Jennifer Vonk of Oakland University were interested in investigating whether narcissistic personality features indirectly affect one’s self-esteem. They recruited 808 participants who completed a baseline assessment of narcissism along with daily assessments of perceived social status, perceived inclusion, and self-esteem.
Narcissistic admiration was positively associated with self-esteem, status, and inclusion, while narcissistic rivalry was negatively associated with these variables.
Importantly, a mediation analysis indicated that narcissistic admiration was associated with heightened perceptions of status and inclusion, which in turn predicted greater self-esteem. In other words, heightened perceptions of status and inclusion partially explained why those with high levels of narcissistic admiration had greater self-esteem. The opposite pattern of results was found for those high in narcissistic rivalry.
Zeigler-Hill and Vonk explained that narcissistic admiration may be associated with higher self-esteem because these individuals believe other people in their social environment view them as being of high status. On the other hand, people with higher narcissistic rivalry may believe that others perceive them as less respectable or admirable, which would explain narcissistic rivalry’s link to lower self-esteem. The researchers said that the results from their study provide support for a multidimensional view of narcissism.
“It may be helpful for future studies concerning narcissism and self-esteem to include other aspects of narcissism – such as neurotic narcissism – to determine how their connections with self-esteem compare with those that have been observed for narcissistic admiration and narcissistic rivalry,” Zeigler-Hill and Vonk wrote.
The study was titled: “Narcissism and Self-Esteem Revisited : The Mediating Roles of Perceived Status and Inclusion“