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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015 Sep;109(3):e1-e15. doi: 10.1037/pspp0000029. Epub 2015 Mar 30.

Narcissism and the use of personal pronouns revisited.

Author information

Department of Psychology.
Department of Marketing, Stanford University.
Department of Psychology, University of Münster.
Department of Psychology, Georgia Southern University.
Department of Education and Psychology, Free University of Berlin.
Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University.
Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin.

Erratum in


[Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 109(3) of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (see record 2015-37773-002). The authors erroneously reported the overall correlation, first stated in the abstract, between Narcissism and total first-person-singular use as .02 (.017) instead of .01 (.010). The misreporting of the overall correlation between Narcissism and total use of first-person singular does not change the results or interpretation in any way (i.e., the near-zero association between Narcissism and I-talk). The online version of this article has been corrected.] Among both laypersons and researchers, extensive use of first-person singular pronouns (i.e., I-talk) is considered a face-valid linguistic marker of narcissism. However, the assumed relation between narcissism and I-talk has yet to be subjected to a strong empirical test. Accordingly, we conducted a large-scale (N = 4,811), multisite (5 labs), multimeasure (5 narcissism measures) and dual-language (English and German) investigation to quantify how strongly narcissism is related to using more first-person singular pronouns across different theoretically relevant communication contexts (identity-related, personal, impersonal, private, public, and stream-of-consciousness tasks). Overall (r = .02, 95% CI [-.02, .04]) and within the sampled contexts, narcissism was unrelated to use of first-person singular pronouns (total, subjective, objective, and possessive). This consistent near-zero effect has important implications for making inferences about narcissism from pronoun use and prompts questions about why I-talk tends to be strongly perceived as an indicator of narcissism in the absence of an underlying actual association between the 2 variables. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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