A new study published in Psychological Science has found that agentic narcissism is positively associated with self-reported and objectively measured testosterone levels.
“I have studied narcissism as a personality trait for several years. Recent findings indicated that narcissism might be a multidimensional construct,” said study author Marcin Zajenkowski, a professor at the University of Warsaw.
“I was interested in biological correlates of various narcissism dimensions, predicting that only, so-called, agentic narcissism would be positively associated with testosterone level.”
Grandiose narcissism can be split into two facets, including agentic narcissism (“assertiveness, grandiosity, and feelings of superiority”), which is a tendency for self-promotion to get others’ admiration and/or become socially influential, and antagonistic narcissism (“arrogance, quarrelsomeness, and exploitativeness”), which refers to a reactive strategy in response to threats to one’s ego or status, as means to restore what has been threatened. Agentic narcissism represents the default narcissistic strategy.
This pre-registered study included 283 Polish men with a mean age of 22.84. Testosterone levels were evaluated via blood sampling. Participants arrived at the lab between 7:30 AM and 9:30 AM. They were instructed to have abstained “from alcohol for at least 24 hr prior to the blood sampling; any beverage, food, or drug containing caffeine as well as physical exercises for at least 15 hr beforehand; and smoking for at least 3 hr beforehand.” The researchers obtained two indicators of basal testosterone, including total and free testosterone levels.
After the blood sampling, participants moved on to a Qualtrics survey. They completed numerous narcissism questionnaires, including the Polish adaptations of 1) the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, focusing on agentic narcissism; 2) the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Questionnaire which measures agentic and antagonistic narcissism; 3) the short version of the Five Factor Narcissism Inventory which produces scores for agentic, antagonistic, and neurotic narcissism, 4) and the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, which captures neurotic narcissism. Participants also provided self-assessed testosterone ratings, indicating how they would compare to other men on a scale of 1 (very low) to 25 (very high).
“We examined how aspects of narcissism that have been identified in prior research are associated with testosterone which is considered a ‘social hormone’ driving dominance behaviors and motivations,” Zajenkowski told PsyPost.
“In a sample of men we found that one facet of narcissism – agentic – is associated with elevated rates of testosterone. Additionally, we found that men have some insight into their testosterone rates. Those with higher agentic narcissism positively assessed their testosterone level.”
Antagonistic and neurotic narcissism were not associated with either testosterone measure.
Are there questions that still need answers? Zajenkowski said, “We tested only men and male reproductive hormone – testosterone. Future studies may examine whether estradiol – female reproductive hormone – is associated with narcissism and narcissistic behavior.”
The study, “Ego-Boosting Hormone: Self-Reported and Blood-Based Testosterone Are Associated With Higher Narcissism”, was authored by Marcin Zajenkowski, Gilles E. Gignac, Radosław Rogoza, Jeremiasz Górniak, Oliwia Maciantowicz, Maria Leniarska, Peter K. Jonason, and Konrad S. Jankowski.