There Are Two Types of Narcissist, and the Difference Is Crucial

In a time when flaunting your best self on social media has become a norm, narcissistic traits seem to be everywhere. In today’s slang, off-putting behaviors like entitlement, superiority, and self-congratulating are known as ‘flexing‘. Such traits might be more common these days, but being narcissistic is still seen as a pathological personality trait, akin to being sadistic, manipulative, or even psychopathic. However, a 2021 study of 270 people with a median age of 20 lends more credit to the notion that narcissistic behaviors are not always driven by the same things as psychopathy.

“For a long time, it was unclear why narcissists engage in unpleasant behaviors, such as self-congratulation, as it actually makes others think less of them. Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure,” said clinical psychologist Pascal Wallisch from New York University (NYU). “More specifically, the results suggest that narcissism is better understood as a compensatory adaptation to overcome and cover up low self-worth,” added clinical psychologist Mary Kowalchyk, also from NYU.

Psychologists do already distinguish between two rather different types of narcissists: ‘vulnerable narcissists‘ who have low self-esteem, attachment anxiety, and are highly sensitive to criticism; and ‘grandiose narcissists‘, who have high self-esteem and self-aggrandizement. This latest research helps to further disentangle the two. Kowalchyk and team used a series of measures to assess the levels of different traits including narcissism, self-esteem, and psychopathy for each of their participants, and found that flexing behavior is strongly associated with individuals who also have high insecurities and sense of guilt. Those exhibiting psychopathy showed relatively low levels of guilt.

Source: https://www.sciencealert.com/

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