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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2006;10(2):154-65.

Impulsivity and the self-defeating behavior of narcissists.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Currently prominent models of narcissism (e.g., Morf and Rhodewalt, 2001) primarily explain narcissists' self-defeating behaviors in terms of conscious cognitive and affective processes. We propose that the disposition of impulsivity may also play an important role. We offer 2 forms of evidence. First, we present a meta-analysis demonstrating a strong positive relationship between narcissism and impulsivity. Second, we review and reinterpret the literature on 3 hallmarks of narcissism: self-enhancement, aggression, and negative long-term outcomes. Our reinterpretation argues that impulsivity provides a more parsimonious explanation for at least some of narcissists' self-defeating behavior than do existing models. These 2 sources of evidence suggest that narcissists' quest for the status and recognition they so intensely desire is thwarted, in part, by their lack of the self-control necessary to achieve those goals.

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