Studies: is there a narcissism epidemic?

Studies: is there a narcissism epidemic?

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Is our society becoming more and more narcissistic?

Some scientists believe that the number of people with a narcissistic disorder is increasing in our society. Researchers from the University of Konstanz have now checked this assumption in a study and found a decrease in this personality disorder instead of an increase.

Are there really more and more people with a narcissistic disorder?

In western countries, more and more people are morbidly in love themselves. Many children have also been raised by their parents as narcissists, experts have long warned. But is it really true that the number of people with a narcissistic disorder is increasing? Scientists from the University of Konstanz have now checked this assumption and found a decrease in this personality disorder instead of an increase.

Origin of narcissism

The origin of narcissism is often in childhood:

"The narcissistic personality disorder is a so-called early disorder, which arises in the early bond / relationship with the mother," explained Gritli Bertram, social worker and therapist from Hanover in an older interview with "".

"Due to the lack of emotional fit between mother and child, it was not possible to develop a healthy self," said the expert.

Scientists have long suspected an increase in narcissism from generation to generation and have even spoken of the outbreak of a "narcissism epidemic" in our society. But is that really true?

Slight decline noted

A research team of psychologists around Dr. Eunike Wetzel from the University of Konstanz has now checked this assumption using around 60,000 personality tests by American students from three decades.

The psychologists came to a surprising conclusion: narcissism has not increased over the past 25 years, but has even decreased slightly.

The decline has been continuous since the early 1990s and thus began before the economic crisis. The results of the evaluation were published in the science journal "Psychological Science".

Surprising results

"We expected to find an increase in narcissism between 1992 and the 2000s, and then a possible decline after the Great Depression. We were therefore surprised by the results of our study, ”said Wetzel in a communication from the University of Konstanz, which was published by the“ Informationsdienst Wissenschaft ”(idw).

Classic theories assume that periods of economic growth are conducive to the development of narcissism, while economic crises are associated with declining narcissism.

However, Wetzel's results paint a different picture: the decline in narcissism began in the economically stable times before the economic crisis.

Some people are more prone to narcissism

For their study, the psychologists evaluated data from three US universities (University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Davis, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign), which have been carrying out a uniform narcissism personality test since 1992.

The data come from a total of around 60,000 students who were between the ages of 18 and 24 at the time of their respective survey.

The proportion of women surveyed was between 55 percent (1992) and 72 percent (2015).

In addition to the University of Konstanz, the study also included the University of Magdeburg, University of Kent (Great Britain), Carleton University (Canada), Tilburg University (Netherlands), University of California, Davis (USA) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( USA) involved.

"We are not concerned with narcissism in the sense of a clinical disorder like narcissistic personality disorder", emphasizes Wetzel and clarifies:

"We are studying narcissism in the general population. We regard narcissism as a personality trait, such as extraversion or conscientiousness are characteristics of a person: some people are more conscientious than others, some are more prone to narcissism than others. ”

Personality disorder consists of various aspects

“Previous research viewed narcissism only as an overall construct. This is problematic because narcissism consists of various aspects, ”says Eunike Wetzel.

In her study, the psychologist therefore differentiates between three main facets of narcissism - leadership, vanity and entitlement - and follows the development of these facets over the three decades examined.

The most noticeable decline is seen in the characteristic “claim thinking”, which expresses whether a person feels superior to others and superior.

“This is interesting because this trait, along with vanity, is at the core of narcissism. The fact that precisely these aspects have decreased contradicts the thesis of an epidemic of narcissism, ”explains Wetzel.

The decline in narcissism is evident in both men and women, particularly in the aspects of claim thinking and leadership behavior.

Deviating from the scheme, however, psychologists found a general reduction in the third aspect, vanity, only in women. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: The Narcissism Epidemic (August 2022).