More participation in political activity linked to higher levels of narcissism

The study was authored by Peter Hatemi and Zoltán Fazekas.

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Engaging in more political activity might be linked to people with higher levels of narcissism, new research by Penn State University found.

Appearing in the journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology, three studies were conducted in the United States and Denmark involving thousands of participants.

In the study, the participants detailed their political participation, including their voting background, attendance of social demonstrations, communication with politicians, and monetary contributions.

Narcissism, a trait associated with selfishness and an excessive need for admiration, was measured using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory–40 (NPI-40).

According to researchers, the participants who scored higher in narcissism had a tendency to become more preoccupied with political activity, particularly engaging in the following: demonstrations, monetary donations, and communication with politicians.

From the findings: “Both agentic and antagonistic components of narcissism were positively and negatively related to different types of political participation when exploring the subfactors independently.”

“Superiority and Authority/Leadership were positively related to participation, while Self Sufficiency was negatively related to participation,” the co-authors highlighted in their findings. “In addition, the combined Entitlement/Exploitativeness factor was negatively related to turnout, but only in midterm elections.”

Peter Hatemi, co-author of the study, concluded, “It is hard not to think that those high in narcissism taking part in the political process appears to have some role in the current state of our democracy. If people who are more interested in their own personal gain and status take a greater part in elections, then we can expect candidates to emerge who reflect their desires — narcissism begets narcissism.”

The study was also authored by Zoltán Fazekas of Copenhagen Business School Denmark.

Image courtesy of Sacha Vega