New research found that people who are narcissistic may also be more politically active. In a series of studies performed in the United States and Denmark, researchers found that people with higher levels of narcissism—a trait combining selfishness, entitlement and a need for admiration—were also more likely to participate in politics. This could include contacting politicians, signing petitions, donating money, and voting in midterm elections, among other things.
According to the researchers, previous work has shown that higher levels of narcissism are linked with behaviors that could be harmful to functioning democracies—for example, shifting focus from civic responsibility toward a person’s own self-interest and gratification. Higher narcissism in the general public has been connected with more conflict and civic strife, in addition to less cooperation, compromise, and forgiveness.
In a new work, the researchers gathered a variety of data. They conducted two nationally representative surveys: one in the U.S. and one in Denmark, with 500 and 2,450 participants in each, respectively. There was a third, web-based U.S. study with 2,280 participants.
In all three studies, participants were asked about their voting history and political participation, which included attending demonstrations or meetings, contacting politicians or the media, and donating money. Narcissism was measured with a questionnaire in which participants were asked to choose between two statements that could apply to them. For example, “I insist upon getting the respect that is due me” vs. “I usually get the respect that I deserve.”
The researchers found that narcissism was associated with higher participation in early politics, like contacting decision makers and publicizing their opinions. People with higher narcissism were also more likely to vote in midterm elections. Because people with higher levels of narcissism are literally speaking out more, their voices could be more likely to be heard.
Breaking the results down further, the researchers found that the traits of superiority and authority/leadership were related to higher participation. Self-sufficiency, however, was associated with less participation.
References: Zoltán Fazekas et al, Narcissism in Political Participation, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2020). DOI: 10.1177/0146167220919212 link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167220919212