Narcissistic people are considerably more aggressive and violent

A person believes they are inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment (Krizan & Herlache, 2018). And while you may not recognize yourself within that definition, evidence shows that we all have some level of narcissism (Krizan & Herlache, 2018), and it also shows that the higher the level of narcissism, the higher the level of aggression of person. A recent review found that narcissism was linked to a 21% increase in aggression and an 18% increase in violence (Kjærvik & Bushman, 2021).

Because it is important?

One study found that people who posted a large number of selfies on social media developed a 25% increase in narcissistic traits over a four-month period (Reed et al., 2018). On the other hand, narcissism is one of the characteristics of toxic leadership, and because narcissistic bosses tend to be selfish and despise others, this prevents them from maintaining good working relationships. Furthermore, narcissistic people tend to discriminate against others (Cichocka et al., 2017) and have little empathy (Burgmer et al., 2021). According to the evidence, their relationships are usually not very good either (Brunell & Keith Campbell, 2012).

What did the Kjærvik & Bushman (2021) review find?

For this study, the authors reviewed 437 other studies on narcissism and aggression. In total, there were 123,000 participants.

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La as any behavior intended to harm another person who does not want to be hurt, while as aggression involves extreme physical harm, such as injury or death.

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Upon review, they found that individuals with a high level of narcissism are especially aggressive when provoked, but they are also aggressive when not provoked.

Study participants with high levels of narcissism showed high levels of physical aggression, verbal aggression, spreading gossip, intimidating others, and even carrying out aggression against innocent bystanders. These people attacked both emotionally excited and in cold blood. Narcissism was related to aggression in men and women of all ages from Western and Eastern countries.

According to the authors, people who believe themselves to be superior do not seem to have any qualms about attacking others whom they consider inferior.

This meta-analytic review combined data from multiple studies investigating the same topic, in order to develop a statistically more robust conclusion due to the larger number of participants. A meta-analytic review may reveal patterns that are not obvious in any study. It’s like looking at the entire forest instead of individual trees.

While these findings refer to an individual person, other research has found that “collective narcissism” (or “my group is superior to yours) is related to intergroup aggression, especially when one of the group members (“ us”) is threatened by an external group (“them”).

New research: how do you become a narcissist?

There are currently work teams investigating, for example, how people become narcissistic. On this topic, one study found that when parents overvalue, overestimate, and praise their child’s qualities, their child tends to become more narcissistic over time (Brummelman et al., 2015). These parents think that their child is more special and has more rights than other children. This study also found that if parents want their child to have healthy self-esteem instead of unhealthy narcissism, they should provide unconditional love and affection.

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Bibliographic references:

  • Borenstein, M., Hedges, LV, Higgins, J.P.T., & Rothstein, H.R. (2021). Introduction to Meta-Analysis. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Brummelman, E., Thomaes, S., Nelemans, SA, Orobio de Castro, B., Overbeek, G., & Bushman, BJ (2015). Origins of narcissism in children. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(12), 3659-3662.
  • Brunell, A.B., & Keith Campbell, W. (2012). Narcissism and Romantic Relationships. In The Handbook of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (pp. 344-350).
  • Burgmer, P., Weiss, A., & Ohmann, K. (2021). I don’t feel anymore: How narcissism shapes empathy. In Self and Identity (Vol. 20, Number 2, pp. 199-215).
  • Cichocka, A., Dhont, K., Makwana, A.P., & Back, M. (2017). On Self–Love and Outgroup Hate: Opposite Effects of Narcissism on Prejudice via Social Dominance Orientation and Right–Wing Authoritarianism. In European Journal of Personality (Vol. 31, Number 4, pp. 366-384).
  • de Zavala, AG, Cichocka, A., Eidelson, R., & Jayawickreme, N. (2009). Collective narcissism and its social consequences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(6), 1074-1096.
  • Kjærvik, SL, & Bushman, BJ (2021). The link between narcissism and aggression: A meta-analytic review. In Psychological Bulletin.
  • Krizan, Z., & Herlache, A.D. (2018). The Narcissism Spectrum Model: A Synthetic View of Narcissistic Personality. In Personality and Social Psychology Review (Vol. 22, Number 1, pp. 3-31).
  • Reed, P., Bircek, NI, Osborne, LA, Viganò, C., & Truzoli, R. (2018). Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism. In The Open Psychology Journal (Vol. 11, Number 1, pp. 163-170).
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