Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are Men or Women More Narcissistic?

Here's the link to a Psychology Today article about narcissism — 
Here's a quote from the section of the article about gender.

"Josh Foster (of the University of South Alabama) and I are releasing a study today showing that narcissistic traits are increasing even faster than we previously thought. From 2002 to 2007, college students' scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) rose twice as fast as we'd found in an earlier study that covered changes between 1982 and 2006. (The NPI measures narcissistic traits among the normal population, not necessarily rising to the level of a clinical diagnosis).

The increase in narcissism was stronger for women than for men in both datasets. Men are still more narcissistic than women on average, but women are catching up fast. This makes some sense, as a lot of the cultural push toward narcissism (see below) has a bigger effect on girls and women."

What is of particular interest to me is that the increase in narcissism is stronger for women than men. Men have historically had greater capacity for self-aggrandizement, not necessarily diagnosable narcissim, than women. We know women (young and middle-aged) do more negative self-talk than men, which would seem to be in opposition to the research finding that their narcissism is increasing. Maybe their self-absorption is increasing, their desire for attention is increasing because of the plethora of their negative self-talk,  with which they are becoming more obsessed?  I don't know. Any ideas? I think I'm going to e-mail some authors on the subject and see what their explanation or expectation might be. I'll let you know.

The PT article as well as a couple of NYTimes articles (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/science/26tier.html    www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/opinion/11brooks.html - and an OpEd piece by David Brooks, "The Modesty Manifesto" point toward a cultural shift in terms of exaggerated self-image, excessive needs/wants for attention, self-absorption — particularly in the college age group.
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