Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology: Clinical-Counseling Psychology
Daniel G. Lannin
The concept of narcissism has been studied for hundreds of years and has typically emphasized grandiose aspects of personality – inflated self-esteem and being socially domineering. More recent literature has sought to differentiate between two aspects of narcissism – grandiosity and vulnerability; that is, narcissism may be marked by not only grandiose thoughts and beliefs, but also have negative emotionality and hypersensitivity. Both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism exhibit tendencies to act out aggressively, especially in the face of interpersonal rejection. There are still gaps in the literature when it comes to interventions, especially ones that may be used in order to reduce narcissistic aggression. Self-affirmation is an intervention that has been used in many different scenarios to bolster one’s self-esteem. Self-affirmation can take many different forms, but the current study utilized a values reflection activity, which has been shown to be effective in other studies. The present study examined the effects of a self-affirmation activity – writing about a personal value – on narcissistic aggression in both high levels of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism from a population of undergraduate students at Illinois State University. Participants completed questionnaires to determine their levels of narcissistic grandiosity and vulnerability, played a game of Cyberball (a manipulation intended to induce aggression via ostracism), and partook in one of two self-affirmation activities – reflecting on a personal value (experimental condition) or reflecting on a favorite ice cream flavor (control condition). It was expected that high vulnerability scores and self-affirmation would interact to predict lower aggression scores. It was also expected that grandiosity would display a similar interaction with self-affirmation in that the resulting aggression scores will be lower than those in the control condition, but not as low as those high in vulnerability and in the self-affirmation condition. It was also predicted that those high in vulnerability and in the control condition would display the highest aggression scores, and that those high in grandiosity and in the control condition would also report higher aggression scores but not as high as the vulnerable control group. Such findings may contribute to potential interventions for individuals with high levels of narcissistic tendencies and provide more insight into narcissism as it is today.
Anello, Kelsey Ann, "Reducing Narcissistic Aggression: Examining the Effect of Self-Affirmation on Subclinical Levels of Narcissism" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 1282.