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So…are you a narcissist? [The Ivy League  edition]

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
posted by Rita Handrich

are you a narcissistWe wrote about the Single-Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) back in 2014 and now it is drawing interest from those in the Ivy League. Simplicity itself, the SINS scale is composed of a single question: Are you a narcissist?

As you likely know, the most widely used measure of narcissism  which we’ve written about several times (the 40-item Narcissistic Personality Inventory) is much longer, and full clinical evaluations by psychologists take even longer than a 40-item scale. So a single item scale with such a straightforward question is terrific—if only it works. And according to these researchers (from Princeton and Yale) it does! Not only does it measure the same thing measured in the much lengthier NPI, say the Ivy Leaguers on one of their blogs, it also is not at all correlated with self-esteem.

“In other words, the measure does not appear to capture people who might have some milder ‘lower order’ narcissistic traits, which implies that the question actually singles out the ‘hard-line’ narcissists pretty well.

This may seem counter-intuitive at first, and it certainly doesn’t always work to ask people directly about their personality traits, but the case of narcissism is unique. True narcissists do not appear to view their narcissism as a bad thing. In fact, they are likely to be proud of it!

Indeed, a number of recent studies have shown that narcissists often admit that they behave in explicitly narcissistic ways, that they happily describe themselves as arrogant, braggy, etc., and even strive to be more narcissistic! Narcissists also appear aware that other people view them less positively than they view themselves, yet simply don’t care.”

The researchers used a large online sample of American adults (N = 2,153) to see if they were able to replicate the original results. They clarify that in comparison to the national average, their sample included slightly more females, liberals, and educated adults. They administered the single-item SINS question, the 40-item NPI, the Narcissistic Grandiosity Scale (currently in preparation) which asks people to rate themselves on a 7-point Likert scale for 16 adjectives (like “superior” or “brilliant”), and a measure of self-esteem.

What these researchers conclude fits the original researcher’s conclusions about a single-item measure of narcissism. While not as comprehensive and sensitive as a more lengthy (and thus more nuanced measure of narcissism), “when strained for resources or space, the SINS might be a useful and viable alternative”.

For those of us doing pre-trial research or looking for ways to identify those who will likely not mesh well with others in deliberations—this is a positive result.

van der Linden, S., & Rosenthal, S. (2016). Measuring narcissism with a single question? A replication and extension of the Single-Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 238-241 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.10.050

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