A total of three decades worth of data, taken from 470,846 participants and 355 academic journal articles, dissertations, manuscripts, and technical manuals, indicate that men of all ages are significantly more likely than women to exhibit narcissistic tendencies.
Interestingly, the narcissism is mostly helpful. It helps men strive harder if they are ambitious. However, narcissism isn’t particularly great either because it can make things pretty unpleasant for those around you, said lead researcher Emily Grijalva from the University at Buffalo School of Management in the U.S.
“Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression. 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.”
Breaking down to the basics of narcissism, Grijalva and her team looked at three different aspects — leadership/authority, grandiose/exhibitionism, and exploitative/entitlement. They dove deep into the instances of these behaviors shown by the male and female participants across each one. The team looked at U.S college students from 1990 to 2013 and across different age groups as well.
Gender difference effect sizes for three facets of narcissism were calculated by subtracting the mean for men from the mean for women. Based on these calculations, they found that by far the widest gap between men and women was a feeling of entitlement, which comes as a surprise to no woman anywhere, stated Grijalva.
“This result suggests that compared with women, men are more likely to exploit others and to believe that they themselves are special and therefore entitled to privileges.”
The second largest gap between the sexes was in the leadership/authority aspect of narcissism. This essentially means compared to women, men were more likely to exhibit assertiveness, the motivation to lead, and a desire for more power over others. Surprisingly, when it came to grandiose/exhibitionism aspect of narcissism, the team found almost no difference between the sexes.
“In other words, both genders were almost equally likely to endorse characteristics consistent with vanity, exhibitionism, and self-absorption.”
The study also included the opposite end of the rainbow – vulnerable narcissism – a less-studied form of narcissism characterized by low self-esteem, neuroticism, and introversion. It appears men and women are both equally affected by this.
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