Narcissists are 'vulnerable and suffer from low self-esteem'

·1-min read

Narcissists are simply vulnerable people who suffer from low self-esteem, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from New York University's Department of Psychology wanted to understand why people have narcissistic tendencies, such as an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a desire for admiration.

They quizzed almost 300 participants – 60 percent female and 40 percent male – who had an average age of 20, in an effort to examine the condition Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is characterised by excessive self-love.

They found that narcissists' behaviour was associated with self-elevation, meaning that they were driven by their insecurities which manifested into actions that helped soothe their confidence issues.

The team invented a scale to investigate social desirability, and found that narcissists needed more social validation, and were desperate to make a good impression.

Their findings suggested that genuine narcissists – who are often confused with people who display psychopathic behaviour – are insecure and are best described as vulnerable.

"For a long time, it was unclear why narcissists engage in unpleasant behaviours, such as self-congratulation, as it actually makes others think less of them. This has become quite prevalent in the age of social media – a behaviour that's been coined 'flexing'," senior author Pascal Wallisch explained.

"Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure, and this is how they seem to cope with their insecurities," he added.