Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Just one simple question can identify narcissistic people

Date:
August 5, 2014
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Scientists have developed and validated a new method to identify which people are narcissistic: just ask them. In a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 people of all ages, the researchers found they could reliably identify narcissistic people by asking them one question.

Scientists have developed and validated a new method to identify which people are narcissistic: just ask them.
Credit: © lunamarina / Fotolia

Scientists have developed and validated a new method to identify which people are narcissistic: just ask them.

Related Articles


In a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 people of all ages, the researchers found they could reliably identify narcissistic people by asking them this exact question (including the note):

To what extent do you agree with this statement: "I am a narcissist." (Note: The word "narcissist" means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)

Participants rated themselves on a scale of 1 (not very true of me) to 7 (very true of me).

(How narcissistic are you? Take the test here.)

Results showed that people's answer to this question lined up very closely with several other validated measures of narcissism, including the widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

The difference is that this new survey -- which the researchers call the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) -- has one question, while the NPI has 40 questions to answer.

"People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic," said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

"People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don't see narcissism as a negative quality -- they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly."

Bushman conducted the study with Sara Konrath of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (formerly of the University of Michigan) and Brian Meier of Gettysburg College. Their results appear in the journal PLOS ONE.

Understanding narcissism has many implications for society that extend beyond the impact on the individual narcissist's life, Konrath said.

"For example, narcissistic people have low empathy, and empathy is one key motivator of philanthropic behavior such as donating money or time to organizations."

"Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society. Those who think they are already great don't try to improve themselves," Bushman said.

"And narcissism is bad for society because people who are only thinking of themselves and their own interests are less helpful to others."

Bushman emphasized that SINS shouldn't be seen a replacement for the longer narcissism questionnaires. The NPI and other instruments can provide more information to researchers, such as which form of narcissism someone has.

"But our single-item scale can be useful for long surveys in which researchers are concerned about people getting fatigued or distracted while answering questions and possibly even dropping out before they are done," Bushman said.

He noted that if it takes a person 20 seconds to answer the single question in the SINS measure, it would take him or her 13.3 minutes to answer the 40-question NPI.

"That is a big difference if you're doing a study in which participants have to complete several different survey instruments and answer a long list of other questions," he said.

The 11 different experiments took a number of different approaches to determine the validity of SINS. Some used undergraduate college students, while others involved online panels of American adults.

One experiment found that SINS was positively related to each of the seven subscales of the NPI which measure various components of narcissism (vanity, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, authority, superiority, self-sufficiency, and entitlement).

Another study found that that participants tended to have similar scores on SINS when tested 11 days apart. One experiment replicated past work that showed people scoring high in narcissism were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and had difficulty maintaining long-term committed romantic relationships.

People who scored higher on narcissism on the SINS had both positive and negative outcomes, Bushman said. They reported more positive feelings, more extraversion, and marginally less depression.

But they also reported less agreeableness, and more anger, shame, guilt, and fear. In addition, people scoring high on SINS showed negative interpersonal outcomes, such as having poor relationships with others and less prosocial behavior when their ego was threatened.

The advantage of SINS compared to other measures, Bushman said, is that it allows researchers to identify narcissists very easily.

"We don't think SINS is a replacement for other narcissism inventories in all situations, but it has a time and place," he said.

The research was supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. The original article was written by Jeff Grabmeier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sara Konrath, Brian P. Meier, Brad J. Bushman. Development and Validation of the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (8): e103469 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103469

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Just one simple question can identify narcissistic people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805150645.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2014, August 5). Just one simple question can identify narcissistic people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805150645.htm
Ohio State University. "Just one simple question can identify narcissistic people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805150645.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins