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Time magazine: Person of the year. The individual who has had the biggest effect on the year's news. Person of the Year. Guess who the Time “Person of the Year” is this year? This reflects the tendency for people to be increasingly self-focused: YouTube slogan: "Broadcast yourself"

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time magazine person of the year
Time magazine: Person of the year

The individual who has had the biggest effect on the year's news

person of the year
Person of the Year
  • Guess who the Time “Person of the Year” is this year?
  • This reflects the tendency for people to be increasingly self-focused:
    • YouTube slogan: "Broadcast yourself"
    • Social networking sites: e.g. MySpace
    • iPods  your own little world of music
    • Cell phones  no need to share anymore
    • Blogs  strangers reading other people’s diaries
slide3

Egos inflating: Rising narcissism and its implications for self-construal, cognitive style, and behavior

Sara Konrath

PhD Candidate, Social Psychology

University of Michigan

acknowledgments
Acknowledgments
  • Thanks to:
    • Dr. Defeldre and members of the Affect, Decision Making & Social Regulation Lab
    • dissertation committee members Brad Bushman, Norbert Schwarz, David Winter, and Katherine Burson
    • collaborators Keith Campbell, Jean Twenge, and Joshua Foster
  • Also thanks to research assistants who helped me run these studies
summary of dissertation research
Summary of dissertation research
  • Narcissism is rising in college students over time
  • Narcissists are particularly likely to aggress when a ‘different’ other criticizes them
  • Unfortunately, their natural tendency is to focus on differences between themselves and others
  • Creating similarities reduces narcissistic aggression
outline
Outline
  • Introduction
  • 1. Rising narcissism
  • 2. Self-construal and cognitive style
  • 3. Reducing narcissistic aggression
  • Conclusions and future directions
narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder (DSM-IV)
  • Begins in early adulthood
  • 5 of the following 9 criteria present in a variety of contexts : 
    • a lack of empathy
    • a grandiose sense of self-importance
    • fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or beauty
    • belief that one is special and unique
    • the need for excessive admiration
    • interpersonal exploitation
    • envy of others and a belief that others envy them
    • arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    •  a sense of entitlement
  • Prevalence:
    • lifetime prevalence, 0.5-1% (higher in clinical settings)
    • more common in men than women (75% diagnosed are male)
sub clinical narcissism
Sub-clinical Narcissism
  • Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
    • 40 items forced choice; most widely used scale
    • 7 subscales: authority, self-sufficiency, superiority, exhibitionism, exploitation, vanity, entitlement
  • Portrait of a narcissist (personality trait)
    • Self: self-enhancing, low in depression & anxiety, creative, extraverted, high self-esteem, love competition, sensation-seeking, materialistic
    • Others: take more in resource dilemma games, lack of empathy, romantic game-players, others dislike them in prolonged interactions, aggressive when criticized
    • Sum:
      • few intrapersonal negatives associated with narcissism
      • many interpersonal negatives
outline9
Outline
  • Introduction
  • 1. Rising narcissism
  • 2. Self-construal and cognitive style
  • 3. Reducing narcissistic aggression
  • Conclusions and future directions
is narcissism rising over time
Is narcissism rising over time?
  • We used the method of cross-temporal meta-analysis to examine narcissism scores in American college students over time

facebook

examples

2000 ‘friends’

130 photos of self

350 ‘friends’

300 photos of self

(Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell, & Bushman, under revision)

slide11

Past Research:

  • Previous cross-temporal meta-analyses have found a rise in individualistic traits on Bem Sex Roles Inventory
    • independent, individualistic, leadership ability
  • Increasing scores on Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale from 1960s  1990s
    • self-esteem correlated with narcissism
  • MMPI: “I am an important person”
    • 1950s: 12% agreement; late 1980s: 80% agreement
  • Recent cross-sectional study found younger people more narcissistic than older people
    • developmental changes or generational differences?

(Twenge, 1997; Twenge & Campbell, 2001; Newsom et al, 2003; Foster et al, 2003)

methods
Methods
  • Literature search
    • Web of knowledge, unpublished data (SPSP listserve)
  • Inclusion rules
    • Undergrads at conventional 4-year colleges
    • Attending college in United States
    • Mixed sex (not more than 80% of one or the other)
    • Unselected students
      • e.g. not chosen for scoring high/low on another measure, not clinical patients, etc.
    • 40-item forced-choice version of NPI
      • most reliable and most widely used
      • need comparable means
      • high scores indicate higher narcissism
final sample data analysis
Final sample & Data analysis
  • 85 samples of American college students
    • N=16,475 (6,616 Male, 9,859 Female)
  • Correlation between NPI and year of data collection
    • weighted by sample size
    • also weighted by the inverse of the variance (w), which takes into account sample standard deviation
      • this was not always available, so we more often relied on the sample size only
results narcissism increasing
Results: Narcissism increasing

Weighted by sample size: b = .53, p < .001, k=85

Weighted by inverse variance: b = .50, p < .001, k=76

results narcissism increasing15

average celebrity score, 2006

Results: Narcissism increasing

NPI scores increased .33 standard deviations

from 1982-2006

discussion
Discussion
  • American college students score increasingly higher in narcissism since the 1980s
  • Possible causes (speculation)
    • Parenting?
      • permissive parenting linked with

narcissism scores

    • Schools?
      • self-esteem movement
      • grade inflation
    • Media?
      • reality tv
      • social networking sites: MySpace, Facebook
      • advertising? e.g. “have it your way”

(Stout, 2000; Sykes, 1995; Horton et al, 2006; Watson et al, 1992)

potential implications
Potential Implications
  • generation of people who may have difficulty sustaining relationships & thinking of others
  • materialism, poor resource sharing
    • e.g. “being well off financially” important goal in life: 45% American college freshman 1967  74% 2004
  • poor impulse control, risky behavior
    • e.g. gambling increased by 50% 1970s-late 1990s
    • e.g. trying drugs: 41% high school seniors 1992  51% 2004
    • e.g. regular drug use: 14% 1992  23% 2004
  • aggression?
    • violent crime rate down in US; what about everyday aggression?
    • no information on entitlement only

(Glenn & Marquardt, 2001; Astin et al, 2004; Shaffer et al, 1999; Bachman et al, 2005)

limitations conclusions
Limitations & Conclusions
  • limited to American college students
    • is narcissism also increasing in other countries?
    • in older adults? children?
    • in less educated and/or less affluent groups?
  • could not present subscale analysis
    • e.g. entitlement predicts aggression
  • conclusion
    • narcissism is rising in American college students
    • however, it is possible that this trend could change (e.g. another Great Depression)
outline19
Outline
  • Introduction
  • 1. Rising narcissism
  • 2. Self-construal and cognitive style
  • 3. Reducing narcissistic aggression
  • Conclusions and future directions
1 self construal

Interdependent

Self-Construal

Independent

Self-Construal

  • relational self
  • feelings of connection & unity
  • social harmony
  • consideration for others
  • follow group norms
  • personal self
  • beliefs of separateness & uniqueness from others
  • personal abilities & traits
  • accomplishments

prevalent in

individualistic cultures

prevalent in

collectivistic cultures

1. Self-construal

Two ways of thinking about the self:

(Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Singelis, 1994)

narcissism self construal
Narcissism & Self-Construal
  • No studies directly examine the relationship between narcissism & self-construal, but there is indirect evidence:
    • people from individualistic cultures are more narcissistic than those from collectivistic cultures (Foster et al., 2003)
    • narcissists and individualists both self-enhance (Paulhus & John, 1998; Campbell, et al., 2002; Ladd et al., 1997; Stucke, 2003; Sedikides et al., 2003)
      • especially on agentic traits
    • both make self-serving attributions (Farwell & Wohlwend-Lloyd, 1998; Rhodewald & Morf, 1995; McAllister et al., 2002; Anderson, 1999)
      • failure = situation
      • success = me
    • both use more 1st person pronouns (Raskin & Shaw, 1988; Kashima & Kashima, 1998)
    • both score higher in extraversion (Raskin & Hall, 1981; Emmons, 1984; McCrae et al., 1997; Shiota et al., 1996)
    • men score higher in narcissism and individualism (Caroll, 1987; Farwell & Wohlwend-Lloyd, 1998; Cross & Madson, 1997)
  • We have found that narcissism is positively associated with independent self-construal and negativelyassociated with interdependent self-construal

(Konrath, Bushman, & Grove, in preparation)

2 cognitive style field dependence independence
2. Cognitive Style: Field dependence / independence

Two types of cognitive styles:

  • Field independent (analytic): objects in one’s environment are experienced as separate & distinct from their surroundings; thus they can easily be disembedded from their context
  • Field dependent (holistic): one’s environment is experienced as a unity of objects; an emphasis on the holistic intermingling of parts

Can be measured with the

Embedded Figures Test (EFT) 

(Witkin et al., 1971)

self construal narcissism cognitive style
Self-Construal, Narcissism & Cognitive Style
  • Self-construal & cognitive style:
  • People with independent self-construals (manipulated or chronic) perform better on tests of field independence
    • requires a cognitive style that can disembed information from its context
  • Narcissism & cognitive style:
    • We expect narcissists to have an analytic cognitive style because:
      • there are similarities between the self & identity processes of narcissists & individualists AND individualism is associated with a more analytic cognitive style (Nisbett et al., 2001)
  • As predicted, we find that narcissists have an analytic cognitive style, that is, they score higher than non-narcissists on the Embedded Figures Test and score lower on a personality test of holism
  • (Ji, Peng, & Nisbett, 2000; Kuhnen, Hannover, & Schubert, 2001; Kuhnen, Hannover, Roder, Schubert, Shah, & Zakaria, 2001; Oyserman, Sorensen, Cha, & Schwarz, 2006)
limitations conclusions24
Limitations & Conclusions
  • Limitations:

As with any correlational study, the direction of causation is problematic:

e.g. Narcissism  Independent Self-Construal?

Independent Self-Construal  Narcissism?

3rd variable leads to both? e.g. self-aggrandizing parenting

  • Future research would help us further understand the associations

between narcissism, self-construal, and cognitive style

  • Conclusions:

1) Narcissism is related to more independence and less interdependence of self-construal

2) Narcissists’ feelings of being unique and separate from others also extend to their cognitive style

    • they view the objects in their environment as distinct and easily separable from their context
outline25
Outline
  • Introduction
  • 1. Rising narcissism
  • 2. Self-construal and cognitive style
  • 3. Reducing narcissistic aggression
  • Conclusions and future directions
self esteem and aggression
Self-esteem and aggression
  • Lay theory that low self-esteem causes many societal problems, including aggression
  • People act aggressively toward others because they secretly hate themselves
  • But… think about the most aggressive person you know…
people with low self esteem
People with low self-esteem:
  • Easily swayed and influenced by others
  • Uncertain of self
  • Tend to give up easily
  • Shy, modest, hesitant, passive
  • Avoid risk
  • Don’t call attention to self
  • Protect self rather than enhance self

Does this sound like the most aggressive person you know?

slide28

Benito Mussolini & Adolf Hitler

Saddam Hussein

Aggressive people

slide29

Hitler’s desire

for adoration

narcissists can be aggressive
Narcissists can be aggressive
  • It is now well established that narcissists become aggressive when criticized or rejected by others (e.g. Baumeister et al, 1996)
slide32

Discrepancy

Favorable

Negative

between

view of self

evaluation

internal and

・ unstable

by other(s)

external

・ inflated

appraisals

・ uncertain

Threatened

egotism

Choice point

Lower

Maintain

self-appraisal

self-appraisal

Negative emotions

Negative emotions

toward source of

toward self

threat

Withdrawal

Aggression or

violence

e.g. teacher – “You deserve a B”

e.g. student – “I deserve an A+”

Reject appraisal

Accept appraisal

Gendeal Aggression Model, Baumeister et al. (1996)

slide33

Narcissistic aggression after ego threat:

After being rejected by his girlfriend, Luke Woodham killed her, her friend, his mother, and wounded 7 others. Three psychologists diagnosed him as a narcissist.

reducing narcissistic aggression
Reducing Narcissistic Aggression
  • Minimize positivity of self?
    • e.g. try to make narcissists believe that they are less intelligent
    • will be seen as ego threat  aggression
  • Minimize ego threats?
    • not realistic
reducing narcissistic aggression37
Reducing Narcissistic Aggression
  • Increase the perceived similarity between the narcissist and the ego-threatener?
    • It mitigates the lack of interpersonal connection that makes aggression possible
      • Creates a ‘unit-relation’; sense of belonging together based on certain attributes (Heider, 1958)
    • It also capitalizes on narcissists' weakness (i.e. self-love)
      • If a person is similar to themselves, narcissists may be more willing to accept negative information and less likely to aggress
slide38

Reducing Narcissistic Aggression

  • Overview of typical narcissism-aggression study:
    • Complete personality measures on web
    • Told that they will be working with a “partner”
    • Complete essay about controversial topic in lab
    • “Partner” gives them negative feedback
    • Given chance to aggress

Konrath, Bushman, & Campbell (2006)

reducing narcissistic aggression39
Reducing Narcissistic Aggression
  • Overview of the current studies:
    • Complete personality measures on web
    • Told that they will be working with a “partner”
    • Similarity to self manipulation (vs. control group)
    • Complete essay about controversial topic in lab
    • “Partner” gives them negative feedback
    • Given chance to aggress

Konrath, Bushman, & Campbell (2006) Psychological Science.

part a personality measures online
Part A: Personality Measures Online
  • Narcissism Personality Inventory (Raskin & Terry, 1988)
  • Most important predictor of aggression is entitlement subscale (forced-choice):
    • I insist upon getting the respect that is due me

I usually get the respect I deserve

    • I have a strong will to power

Power for its own sake doesn’t interest me

    • If I ruled the world it would be a much better place

The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me

  • 2) Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965)
  • Self-esteem does not independently predict aggression; we include as control
  • 10-item scale:
    • I feel that I have a number of good qualities
    • I am able to do things as well as most people
    • I take a positive attitude toward myself
study 1 methods
Study 1: Methods
  • Told study was about first impressions
    • Complete a number of tasks to form impression of same-sex partner in other room
  • Given demographic information card about other subject:
    • Same birthday as them or
    • Different birthday from them
study 1 similarity to self manipulation
Study 1: Similarity to self manipulation
  • Share same birthday
    • Sharing a birthday makes people less competitive and more cooperative in prisoners’ dilemma games (Miller, Downs, & Prentice, 1998).
    • People are also more likely to comply with a request if they share a birthday (Burger et al., 2004)
  • People even like Rasputin (the notorious Russian monk) more if they are told they share his birthday (Finch & Cialdini, 1989).
study 1 methods43
Study 1: Methods
  • Write an essay about abortion
  • Evaluate “partner’s” essay and “partner” evaluates participant’s essay
  • Receive critical feedback from partner
dependent measure aggression
Dependent measure: Aggression
  • Computerized reaction time game in which participants can blast their partner with white noise in increments from 0-105 decibels
    • participants test out sound meter first
  • DV = Average of 25 trials
  • Regression analysis
    • Will present split into high and low narcissism
  • Manipulation check
    • People in same birthday condition perceive more similarity between themselves and their partner
slide46

Low narcissism

High narcissism

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

Aggression

0

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6

-0.8

Same

Different

Birthday

Aggression toward partner

(standardized)

Konrath, Bushman & Campbell (2006) Study 1

slide47

Low narcissism

High narcissism

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

Aggression

0

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6

-0.8

Same

Different

Birthday

Aggression toward partner

*

(standardized)

Konrath, Bushman & Campbell (2006) Study 1

study 2 methods
Study 2: Methods
  • Methods very similar to Study 1, except new similarity manipulation. Before writing essay, subjects fingerprinted & randomly assigned to:
    • Rare fingerprinttype
      • “You both have Type E fingerprints. That’s very rare! Only about 2% of the population has Type E fingerprints.”
    • Common fingerprint type
      • “You both have Type E fingerprints. Of course, that’s not too surprising. About 80% of the population has Type E fingerprints.”
    • Control  no feedback on fingerprints
study 2 similarity to self manipulation
Study 2: Similarity to self manipulation
  • Share same fingerprints
    • Knowledge of a shared fingerprint type makes individuals more compliant to the requests of others (Burger, Messian, Patel, del Prado, & Anderson, 2004).
study 2 manipulation check
Study 2: Manipulation check
  • Unit-relation
    • average of perceived partner similarity to self, liking of partner, feeling connected (a=.78)

a

a

b

slide51

Aggression toward partner

Low narcissism

High narcissism

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

(standardized)

Aggression

0

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6

Rare

Common

Control

Fingerprint Type

Konrath, Bushman & Campbell (2006) Study 2

slide52

Aggression toward partner

Low narcissism

High narcissism

0.8

*

0.6

0.4

0.2

(standardized)

Aggression

0

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6

Rare

Common

Control

Fingerprint Type

Konrath, Bushman & Campbell (2006) Study 2

slide53

Aggression toward partner

Low narcissism

High narcissism

0.8

0.6

*

0.4

0.2

(standardized)

Aggression

0

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6

Rare

Common

Control

Fingerprint Type

Konrath, Bushman & Campbell (2006) Study 2

conclusion
Conclusion
  • Aggression can be reduced in narcissists by making them think they share a key characteristic with potential targets of aggression
    • creates a ‘unit-relation’ that bridges disconnected social style of narcissists
outline55
Outline
  • Introduction
  • 1. Rising narcissism
  • 2. Self-construal and cognitive style
  • 3. Reducing narcissistic aggression
  • Conclusions and future directions
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Narcissism is rising in college students over time
  • Narcissists are particularly likely to aggress when a ‘different’ other criticizes them
  • Unfortunately, their natural tendency is to focus on differences between themselves and others
    • Independent self-construal  unique, separate from others
    • Cognitive style  disconnected
  • Creating similarities reduces narcissistic aggression
future directions decision making
Future directions: Decision making?
  • Program 3.1: context manipulations of self-other similarity to reduce or magnify empathy gap
  • Program 3.2: impact of situational and personality differences on empathetic accuracy
  • Situational/context manipulations
    • birthday, fingerprint, same name, same town…
    • I versus we
    • think of similarities versus differences between self and other
  • Personality traits, individual differences
    • narcissism
    • autism spectrum / aspergers
    • theory of mind
    • relationship of self and other, e.g. probably more accurate if more actual psychological overlap
slide60

Main Research Themes

  • Social cognition & the self
    • e.g. narcissism
  • Political psychology at individual level
    • e.g. political priming
    • e.g. red & blue election maps
  • Political psychology at societal level
    • e.g. ‘face-ism’ in politicians
    • e.g. anti-authoritarianism in music after threat