It can seem like varying degrees of narcissism run rampant in our society these days, but as far as the clinical disorder, much still remains a mystery.
There are traits typically associated with both types – grandiose and vulnerable narcissism – like impulsiveness and cognitive reflection. But while grandiose narcissists tend to have higher self-esteem and think themselves superior to others, vulnerable narcissists are usually insecure, introverted, and defensive.
Both types, according to new research, are self-focused, impulsive, think highly of their intellectual ability, and perceive themselves as critical thinkers (whether they are or not).
This affects narcissists in an interesting way – and it impairs their ability to make decisions across the board.
Three separate studies were used to assess the intuitive thinking of narcissists. The participants were asked to solve riddles and answer other questions that require some extra thought and the ability to stop and wonder whether your first instinct is correct. Participants then self-reported on their own thought process and how confident they felt in their answers.
The results, says co-author Jonathan Fugelsang, are very interesting.
“We found that grandiose and vulnerable narcissism are negatively associated with certain types of important reflective thinking processes.”
Grandiose narcissists were “significantly overconfident” in their performance, unaware of their mistakes and rejecting any attempts to correct them.
Vulnerable narcissists, meanwhile, were more willing to engage in reflection, but ultimately found the process to be ineffective and time consuming. Not only that, but they, like their grandiose counterparts, weren’t able to rely on intuitive thinking when making decisions.
People in this category disengage from receiving corrective feedback for different reasons – they simply doubt their own ability to make good calls using reason, so instead, they claim confidence in “gut instinct.”
The study’s authors point out it could be a chicken and egg scenario – that individuals who lack cognitive reflection then exhibit narcissistic tendencies and not the other way around – but more research is needed to know for sure.
There are implications here for society at large, especially when it comes to positions of power. Narcissism as a diagnosis is a growing issue, and the current 1% who suffer can impact and influence many more with their behaviors.
So, take some time for some self-reflection and introspection, people.
If you’re not able to take that sentence seriously, well…it might be time for a good therapist.
If you don’t have one already.