Summary: People high in narcissistic traits showed higher levels of verbal aggression, physical aggression, and other bullying behaviors. They often extend their aggression to innocent bystanders. Narcissism was associated with a 21% increase in aggression and an 18% increase in violent behaviors.
Our review found that individuals high in narcissism are especially aggressive when provoked, but are also aggressive when they aren’t provoked.
Study participants with high levels of narcissism showed high levels of physical aggression, verbal aggression, spreading gossip, bullying others and even displacing aggression against innocent bystanders. They attacked in both a hotheaded and coldblooded manner.
Narcissism was related to aggression in males and females of all ages from both Western and Eastern countries.
People who think they are superior seem to have no qualms about attacking others whom they regard as inferior.
Unfortunately, narcissism is on the rise, and social media might be a contributing factor. Recent research found people who posted large numbers of selfies on social media developed a 25% rise in narcissistic traits over a four-month period.
One very important line of work investigates how people become narcissistic in the first place. For example, one study found that when parents overvalue, overestimate and overpraise their child’s qualities, their child tends to become more narcissistic over time. Such parents think their child is more special and entitled than other children.
This study also found that if parents want their child to have healthy self-esteem instead of unhealthy narcissism, they should give unconditional warmth and love to their child.
Our review looked at the link between narcissism and aggression at the individual level. But the link also exists at the group level. Research has found that “collective narcissism” – or “my group is superior to your group” – is related to intergroup aggression, especially when one’s in-group (“us”) is threatened by an out-group (“them”).
How we do our work
Our study, called a meta-analytic review, combined data from multiple studies investigating the same topic to develop a conclusion that is statistically stronger because of the increased number of participants. A meta-analytic review can reveal patterns that aren’t obvious in any one study. It is like looking at the entire forest rather than at the individual trees.
About this personality disorder and violence research news