Narcissists get a bad rap. It could be because they are egotistical, self absorbed and arrogant and have little concern for the feelings of others. However, a narcissist is often quite popular in the early stages of their new job because of their confident manner, charming facial expressions, fashionable clothes and trendy haircuts.
If you want to find out who the real Narcissist is in your office then use this one simple technique to find out: just ask them. It does sound too simple but Brad Bushman, Professor of Psychology and Communication at The Ohio State University, USA and first author of a recent study explains:
“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic.
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.”
In the study of 2,200 people of all ages, people were asked one simple question, including the part in brackets:
“To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)”
People rated themselves on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is “not very true of me” and 7 is “very true of me”. The results were pretty close to other measures of narcissism, especially the popular 40 question Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
The question probably works so well because of the very nature of narcissism itself. Bushman went on to explain the extent of the Narcissist problem. While they can appear attractive at first Narcissists can become toxic in the long run because they have little concern for the feelings of others.
“Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society. Those who think they are already great don’t try to improve themselves.
“And narcissism is bad for society because people who are only thinking of themselves and their own interests are less helpful to others.”
Try the question out on your work colleagues and see how many narcissists you have lurking in your office.
View full Psyblog article