narcissists are probably happier than the rest of us: study

Although they may have illusions of grandeur over their own importance and not feel shame and empathy, narcissists are probably happier than most people around them, say Irish psychologists.

Often described as socially toxic, narcissists appear more and more present in the social and cultural world today, especially since the rise of social media observed in the last two decades.

Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou and his colleagues at Queen’s University in Belfast wanted to better understand this trait of personality and understand why it is so widespread despite the negative feelings it causes.

Their work takes a new look at narcissism. According to them, if it is bad for a group, it seems beneficial for individual narcissists.

Their three studies of over 2100 adults have highlighted some positive aspects in people with this personality, such as some resilience to the symptoms of mental illness.

Roughly, the researchers showed that these people would be less likely to feel stressed or depressed.

Negative reactions to narcissism overshadow the benefits for the narcissists themselves! 

Kostas Papageorgiou

The dangerous quartet

Narcissism is included in the black personality tetrad consisting of four traits describing socially harmful personalities with Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism.

Dr. Papageorgiou explains that narcissism is divided into two major groups.

The grandiose narcissism is the one we think most often. It is associated with an exaggeration, by a person, of the importance of his status and his power. It is associated with an oversized ego.

Vulnerable narcissism is associated with a person’s defensive and paranoid behaviors, as he often views the behavior of others as hostile.

People with dark traits, such as narcissism, engage in risky behaviors, have an unrealistic vision of superiority of themselves, are overconfident, have little empathy for others, and are not guilty. nor shame.

Kostas Papageorgiou

One of the researchers’ main conclusions is that grandiose narcissism can increase an individual’s mental strength and thus help him to compensate for the symptoms of depression.

In addition, people with grandiose narcissistic traits experience less stress and are therefore less likely to view their lives as stressful.

Our results show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components associated with mental strength, such as self-confidence and goal orientation, which protects against symptoms of depression and stress. 

Kostas Papageorgiou

This research really helps to explain the variation in symptoms of depression in society , says Dr. Papageorgiou.

If a person is more mentally resilient, he or she is likely to face the challenges head-on, rather than consider them an obstacle. 

Kostas Papageorgiou

Dark features, such as narcissism, should not be considered good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that can be beneficial or harmful depending on the context, Dr. Papageorgiou adds.

Other works might try to find a way to cultivate certain traits, while discouraging others for the common good of the group.

The present works are published in the journals Personality and Individual Differences  and European Psychiatry. 

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