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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 May;82(5):819-34.

The performance of narcissists rises and falls with perceived opportunity for glory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, USA.


Narcissists consider themselves to be exceptional performers, but past research has found no consistent relationship between narcissism and performance. The present research tested the hypothesis that the relationship between subclinical narcissism and performance is moderated by a motivational factor: perceived self-enhancement opportunity. Four experiments were conducted, each using different manipulations of self-enhancement opportunity and different performance tasks. In each study, narcissists performed better when self-enhancement opportunity was high rather than low. In contrast, the performance of participants with low narcissism was relatively unaffected by self-enhancement opportunity. Other findings suggested that narcissists' self-enhancement motivation stems more from a desire to garner admiration than from a desire to self-evaluate. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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