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      Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissism in Relation to Life Satisfaction, Self-Esteem, and Self-Construal

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          Abstract. A growing body of research suggests the viability of the distinction between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Each subtype of narcissism reveals distinct associations with life satisfaction, self-esteem, and self-construal. The goal of the present study ( N = 253) is to apply this distinction to replicate the results of previous studies with respect to life satisfaction and self-esteem and to extend the perspective by focusing on several components of self-construal: independent and interdependent (cf. Singelis, 1994). In addition, interdependent self-construal is either relational-interdependent or collective-interdependent (cf. Cross, Hardin, & Gercek-Swing, 2011). Specifically, four hypotheses are examined which have in common the assumption that grandiose and vulnerable narcissism diverge systematically in their implications for life satisfaction, self-esteem, and self-construal. Grandiose narcissism is expected to correlate positively with life satisfaction, self-esteem, independent self-construal, and collective-interdependent self-construal. In contrast, vulnerable narcissism is assumed to correlate negatively with self-esteem and life satisfaction and positively with interdependent and relational self-construal. The results, which confirm these hypotheses, underscore the necessity to differentiate between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Remarkably, both subtypes of narcissism are related to distinct dimensions of interdependent self-construal. Whereas grandiose narcissism is anchored in collective interdependence, vulnerable narcissism is embedded in relational interdependence.

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              The construct of narcissism is inconsistently defined across clinical theory, social-personality psychology, and psychiatric diagnosis. Two problems were identified that impede integration of research and clinical findings regarding narcissistic personality pathology: (a) ambiguity regarding the assessment of pathological narcissism vs. normal narcissism and (b) insufficient scope of existing narcissism measures. Four studies are presented documenting the initial derivation and validation of the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI). The PNI is a 52-item self-report measure assessing 7 dimensions of pathological narcissism spanning problems with narcissistic grandiosity (Entitlement Rage, Exploitativeness, Grandiose Fantasy, Self-sacrificing Self-enhancement) and narcissistic vulnerability (Contingent Self-esteem, Hiding the Self, Devaluing). The PNI structure was validated via confirmatory factor analysis. The PNI correlated negatively with self-esteem and empathy, and positively with shame, interpersonal distress, aggression, and borderline personality organization. Grandiose PNI scales were associated with vindictive, domineering, intrusive, and overly-nurturant interpersonal problems, and vulnerable PNI scales were associated with cold, socially avoidant, and exploitable interpersonal problems. In a small clinical sample, PNI scales exhibited significant associations with parasuicidal behavior, suicide attempts, homicidal ideation, and several aspects of psychotherapy utilization. Copyright 2009 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Individual Differences
                Hogrefe Publishing
                March 25, 2019
                : 40
                : 4
                : 194-203
                [ 1 ]Department of Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
                Author notes
                Elke Rohmann, Department of Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany, elke.rohmann@
                Self URI (journal-page):
                Original Article


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