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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2014 Apr;40(4):488-500. doi: 10.1177/0146167213516635. Epub 2013 Dec 17.

Down-regulating narcissistic tendencies: communal focus reduces state narcissism.

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  • 11Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

Narcissism has been conceptualized as a set of coherent, mutually reinforcing attributes that orients individuals toward self-enhancement and positive self-feelings. In this view, reducing one element of narcissism--such as a greater concern for agency than communion--may situationally reduce narcissism in a state-like manner. Across five studies, we found that increasing communal focus toward others decreases state narcissism. In Study 1, participants induced to feel empathy reported less state narcissism. In Studies 2 to 4, participants primed with interdependent self-construal reported less state narcissism than control participants and those primed with independent self-construal. Furthermore, in Study 4, changes in state narcissism mediated changes in desire for fame and perceptions that others deserve help. Thus, changes in one element of narcissism may situationally reduce narcissistic tendencies. These findings suggest that narcissism is more state-like and context-dependent than previously assumed.

KEYWORDS:

empathy; independent self-construal; interdependent self-construal; narcissism; self-enhancement

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