If asked who you believe to be more narcissistic, men or women, what would you say?
Actually, scratch that… we shouldn’t be starting a raging debate this early in the morning. But then again, a study has been conducted compiling three decades of data, using 475,000 participants. And since the lead author of the study is Emily Grijalva, PhD (inset photo), assistant professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management, it’s imperative that we share the results.
Men are more narcissistic than women.
If you guessed right, then pat yourself on the back (but not too hard, unless you’re a guy).
It was found that the results from the study were, on average, consistent throughout multiple generations and age brackets.
“Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression,” says Grijalva. “At the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader. By examining gender differences in narcissism, we may be able to explain gender disparities in these important outcomes.”
The studies were based on research pulled from 355 journal articles, dissertations, manuscripts and technical manuals. Narcissistic traits that the researchers took into account were based on entitlement (1st largest difference), leadership/authority (second largest difference) and grandiose/exhibitionism (relatively the same).
“Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power,” Grijalva says. “But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption.”
While there were some traits that were equally shared by both men and women, there were certain traits, such as entitlement, where men rose well above the ranks. According to the studies, men tend to exploit others to satiate their sense of entitlement of privileges.
When asked how all of this behavior came to pass, Grijalva says, “Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations. In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”
The causes of these disparities stem from a number of socio-economic factors including gender stereotypes and the persistent lack of women in senior leadership roles.
Grijalva’s co-authors on the study were Daniel A. Newman, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Louis Tay, PhD, assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Purdue University; M. Brent Donnellan, PhD, professor of social psychology at Texas A&M University; P.D. Harms, PhD, assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Richard W. Robins, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis; and Taiyi Yan, an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
You can learn more about the study by clicking here.