WASHINGTON — If you want to know who’s narcissistic, just ask them. This according to a new method developed by scientists.
After 11 experiments, involving roughly 2,200 people of all ages, the scientists found they could identify narcissistic people by asking this:
“To what extent do you agree with this statement: ‘I am a narcissist.’ (Note: The word ‘narcissist’ means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)”
In the study, participants rated themselves on a scale of 1 (not very true of me) to 7 (very true of me).
The answers to this question aligned with several other validated measures of narcissism, including the “Narcissistic Personality Inventory,” research shows.
But the new survey, called the “Single Item Narcissism Scale” by researchers, has one question; the “Narcissistic Personality Inventory” has 40 questions to answer.
“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.
“People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact,” Bushman continues. “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.”
Bushman conducted the study with Sara Konrath of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Brian Meier of Gettysburg College. Their results appear in the PLOS ONE journal.
Understanding narcissism has societal implications, Konrath said.
“For example,” she adds, “narcissistic people have low empathy, and empathy is one key motivator of philanthropic behavior such as donating money or time to organizations.”
“Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society,” Bushman continues. “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.”
The experiments used undergraduate college students and online panels of American adults.