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Pandemic Could Be Golden Time for Narcissists: Study

HealthDay News
by Robert Preidt
Updated: Dec 1st 2020

new article illustration

TUESDAY, Dec. 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The coronavirus pandemic is giving some narcissists a chance to bask in the admiration of others, a new study suggests.

It found that narcissists who are essential workers -- including those in restaurants and retail stores -- love their "hero" status.

"The word 'hero' is a trigger for narcissists," explained study co-author Amy Brunell, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"Having their work elevated to hero status provides them with an opportunity to shine in front of others and feel even better about themselves," she said in a university news release.

Researchers conducted two online studies -- one in the United States and one worldwide -- that included a total of 312 people who said they were essential workers during the pandemic. Working in a convenience/grocery store was the most common type of job among the participants.

Essential workers who scored higher on measures of narcissism shared more about their work on social media, in-person and elsewhere, and this sharing increased their narcissistic feelings in the moment, according to the study. The results were published this week in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

People with high scores on two specific types of narcissism -- communal and agentic -- were more likely than others to share about their work.

Communal narcissists think they are better than others at being helpful -- they were more likely to strongly agree with statements like "I will be known for the good deeds I will have done."

Agentic narcissists are those typically envisioned by people when they think of narcissism. They strongly agreed with statements like "I will usually show off if I get the chance."

"It is easy to see why people who score higher on communal narcissism would enjoy being known as an essential worker and want to share their experiences on Facebook and Instagram," Brunell said.

"They think they are the best at being helpful and caring for others. The pandemic gave them a chance to stand out," she explained.

Agentic narcissists don't usually like to share the limelight, but likely enjoy the attention and the status boost they get from being called a hero.

"That's why they likely shared about their work. Their 'hero' status gave them a way to feel admired and distinct from others," Brunell said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on narcissism.


SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, Nov. 24, 2020