Narcissists are more likely to be politically active, according to new research.
Researchers found individuals who displayed classic narcissistic traits – like selfishness, entitlement and a need for admiration – were more likely to sign petitions, reach out to elected officials and vote in midterm elections.
People who were self-sufficient, however, were less likely to be politically engaged.
Peter Hatemi, a political science professor at Penn State University, said his findings may explain ‘the current state of our democracy.’
‘If people who are more interested in their own personal gain and status take a greater part in elections, then we can expect candidates to emerge who reflect their desires – narcissism begets narcissism,’ said Hatemi, whose research was published in the journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
People who display classic signs of narcissism – selfishness, entitlement and a need for admiration – are more likely to participate in political activities
Sander Thomaes, a developmental psychologist at Utrecht University, has called President Donald Trump a ‘prototypical narcissist,’ exhibiting a grandiose self image, an overinflated ego, an insatiable need for attention and admiration and a tendency to lash out when criticized.
‘Narcissists blame others for their failures,’ Thomaes said in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election. ‘In their eyes, they have often been snubbed. Or the other has cheated.’
For the new report, participants in three separate surveys were asked about their voting history and political participation, including if they attended rallies, contacted politicians or donated to campaigns.
A separate questionnaire gauged the respondents’ levels of narcissism by asking them to choose between a series of two statements, like, ‘I insist upon getting the respect that is due me’ versus ‘I usually get the respect that I deserve.’
For the new report, participants in three separate surveys were asked about their voting history and political participation, including if they attended rallies, contacted politicians or donated to campaigns. A separate questionnaire gauged the respondents’ levels of narcissism
Those who scored high on narcissism, the tended to participate early in the political process — sharing their opinions on social media or lawn signs, writing to decision makers
Those who scored high on narcissism tended to participate early in the political process — sharing their opinions on social media or lawn signs, writing to decision makers.
The data also found people who were more self-sufficient were less likely to be involved politically.
‘This means that policies and electoral outcomes could increasingly be guided by those who both want more but give less,’ Hatemi said.
Hatemi said it was crucial to find ways to increase political engagement among a diverse electorate.
WHAT IS NARCISSISM?
Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism and a lack of empathy.
Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism and a sense of entitlement.
Extreme narcissism can cross over into a mental illness called narcissistic personality disorder, found more commonly in men.
The cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
‘Successful democratic functioning requires trust in institutions, efficacy, and engagement in the democratic process,’ Hatemi said.
‘If those who are more narcissistic are the most engaged, and the political process itself is driving up narcissism in the public, in my opinion, the future of our democracy could be in jeopardy.’
Research from 2018 indicated narcissists believe democracy is bad for society, and actually prefer a totalitarian leader or military rule.
They ‘tend to feel entitled and superior to others, which results in lower tolerance of diverse political opinions,’ according to scientists from the University of Kent.
That study found high narcissism and low self-esteem predicted decreased support for democracy,
In contrast, people who trusted others and took a positive self-view were more likely to endorse democracy.
‘Support for democracy requires the ability to respect the views and opinions of others, even if one disagrees with them,’ said psychologist Aleksandra Cichocka.
A 2018 study by Hatemi published in the American Journal of Political Science found that conservatives and liberals were equally narcissistic but how they express it is different.
A sense of entitlement was ‘uniformly related to more conservative positions,’ while exhibitionism was related more to progressives.
BELIEVE IN CONSPIRACY THEORIES? YOU’RE PROBABLY A NARCISSIST, RESEARCHERS SAY
People who doubt the moon landings are more likely to be selfish and attention-seeking, according to a recent study.
Over the course of three online-based studies, researchers at the University of Kent showed strong links between the belief in conspiracy theories and negative psychological traits.
Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the team explained: ‘Previous research linked the endorsement of conspiracy theories to low self-esteem.’
In the first study, a total of 202 participants completed questionnaires on conspiracy beliefs, asking how strongly they agreed with specific statements, such as whether governments carried out acts of terrorism on their own soil.
Alongside this, they were asked to complete a narcissist scale and a self-esteem assessment.
The results showed that those people who rated highly on the narcissism scale and who had low self-esteem were more likely to be conspiracy believers.