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Narcissism linked to aggression in daily social interactions, study finds

Narcissism linked to aggression in daily social interactions, study finds
Narcissism linked to aggression in daily social interactions, study finds

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Recent work published in the Journal of Personality found that grandiose narcissism and interpersonal antagonism were linked to increased aggression in real-life interactions, especially when combined with negative emotional states.

While studies have shown that narcissistic traits correlate with aggression, traditional research often relies on retrospective self-reports or laboratory settings, which may not capture real-time, situational dynamics. In this work, researchers Tianwei V. Du and colleagues used an experience-sampling method to examine how specific dimensions of narcissism influence aggressive behaviors during everyday interactions.

This study recruited 477 undergraduate students from a large public university who received four daily prompts via a mobile application to report on their most intense interactions since the last prompt for a duration of 10 days. At the baseline, narcissistic traits were assessed using the Five Factor Narcissism Inventory Short Form (FFNI-SF), which measures various facets of narcissism, including entitlement, exploitativeness, and self-sufficiency.

Participants also completed measures of verbal and physical aggression (e.g., “Since the last prompt… I felt like I wanted to hurt someone; I said something offensive to someone”), positive (e.g., happy, relaxed) and negative (e.g., irritable, angry) emotional states (via the PANAS-X), and rated the interpersonal warmth and dominance of their interactions using the the Visual Interpersonal Analogue Scale.

Overall narcissism at the global level was positively correlated with various forms of episodic aggression, including aggressive temper, urges, and verbal aggression. Grandiose narcissism stood out as a significant predictor of aggression. Interpersonal antagonism was another significant predictor, not only contributing to aggression independently but also exacerbating the effects when combined with negative affect during specific events.

Negative emotion also consistently influenced aggression, showing significant effects both within individuals over time and across different individuals. While grandiose narcissism was more associated with proactive aggression, vulnerable narcissism and traits such as narcissistic neuroticism were linked to reactive aggression, particularly in response to social provocations.

Overall, these results emphasize the importance of dissecting narcissism into its component traits to better understand and predict its influence on aggressive behaviors in real-world settings.

A limitation to this research is the reliance on self-reported data, which might introduce biases in how individuals perceive and report their behaviors and emotions.

The study, “Momentary assessment of the relations between narcissistic traits, interpersonal behaviors, and aggression”, was authored by Tianwei V. Du, Sean P. Lane, Joshua D. Miller, and Donald R. Lynam.

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