Why Narcissists Stick Together

There's one personality type that really likes being around narcissists

What type of people can tolerate narcissistic personalities best? Other narcissists.

A new study has found that if you think your friends are narcissists, you probably are one too – self-involved people gravitate towards other self-involved people.

The research was conducted by a team of Berlin-based psychologists who concluded that ‘Narcissists of a feather flock together’. Sounds both sweet and ominous – we’re envisioning an army of polished Instagram stars taking over the world one selfie at a time…

Narcissists in a nutshell: to varying degrees narcissists believe they are smarter, better looking and more important than other people and that because of their superiority they deserve special treatment (lots of admiration, status and attention). On paper you might think these people sound like intolerable bores, but in real life our love of them is in direct correlation with how elevated our opinion of ourselves is.

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The researchers studied 290 pairs of best friends, assessing them according to the ‘Big Five’: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. They found “Evidence that narcissists are even more tolerant of others’ narcissistic traits (such as being bossy, aggressive, arrogant, and selfish) when they possess these characteristics themselves.”

These pairs of BFFs were also measured on the Dark Triad of personality traits: machiavellianism (a personality type that does not choose to be, but simply is, a master manipulator), narcissism and psychopathy, and generally they found that we seek out kindred spirits.

Educator W Keith Campbell explained in a TED-Ed short that there are two types of narcissism not considered personality disorders (the kinds of narcissists we encounter all the time): grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissists are extroverted, dominant and attention seeking, they’re power hungry (hello, Donald Trump). Vulnerable narcissists have a strong sense of entitlement and are easily hurt when their elevated view of themselves is challenged.

If we just described your friends, well, you’re probably part of the me-me-me club too…

Basically, narcissists legitimise and fuel each other’s behaviour, and the current social media culture of self-promotion isn’t doing anything to dial down these tendencies. But, on the positive side, at least if we’re all narcissists we’re all able to rub along nicely together.

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