While narcissism may be viewed by many in society as a negative personality trait, it could also have benefits.
In a recent study led by Queen’s University Belfast, researchers found people who have narcissistic traits are more likely to be ‘mentally tough’, feel less stressed and are less vulnerable to depression.
The study is published in Personality and Individual Differences. One author is Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou, from the School of Psychology at Queen’s.
According to the team, narcissism is part of the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy and Sadism.
There are two main dimensions to narcissism—grandiose and vulnerable.
Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behavior of others as hostile whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over-inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power.
Individuals high on the spectrum of dark traits, such as narcissism, engage in risky behavior, hold an unrealistic superior view of themselves, are overconfident, show little empathy for others, and have little shame or guilt.
In the study, the team conducted three independent experiments each involving more than 700 adults.
They found some positive sides of narcissism, such as resilience against symptoms of psychopathology.
A key finding of the research was that grandiose narcissism can increase mental toughness and this can help to offset symptoms of depression.
It also found that people who score high on grandiose narcissism have lower levels of perceived stress and are therefore less likely to view their life as stressful.
The research is a fresh approach to the study of personality and psychopathology, highlighting that there are some positives to be found in terms of potential societal impact.
The team says the findings show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components of mental toughness, such as confidence and goal orientation, protecting against symptoms of depression and perceived stress.
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