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Applied Final Project

Alexis Gardner

PSYC 335

University of Maryland Global Campus

2 Narcissism

Table of Contents

Component 1: Summary and Analysis Pages 3-4

Component 2: Research Application Pages 5-8

Component 3: Personality Theory Pages 9-14

Theory: Nature-Nurture theory

Theory 2: Psychoanalytic theories

Theory 3: Trait Theory of Personality

Component 4: Personal Reflection Pages 15- 18

References Pages 19-20

3 Narcissism

Component 1

Summary and Analysis

Narcissism is based on the Greek Myth Narcissus who feel in love with his own

reflection and was later identified as a personality disorder (Jenkins, 2019). Narcissistic

Personality Disorder or NPD are long term patterns of abnormal behavior, exaggerated feelings

of self-importance, and excessive need for admiration and showing a lack of empathy for other

people. This can only be classified as a disorder if this is more than people would generally

expect to see in standard human behavior.

While most people think a narcissist is just someone who thinks they are the best at

everything, it is exceedingly much more than that. A narcissist is someone who develops a made-

up or false self in order to avoid seeing their real self, which they often believe to be dreadful and

un-loveable (Jenkins, 2019). Someone with narcissistic personality disorder expects to be

recognized as superior even if they do not do anything astoundingly well, they require excessive

admiration, and have a sense of entitlement. They can also take advantage of others in order to

get what they want. People with narcissism do not do things for others unless there is an

immediate gain or recognition for themselves by helping someone out.

In order for an individual to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD,

they have to preset with at least five of the following characteristics: the need to make-up skills

or talents to help them achieve in their life, they need to have others see their perfect lives, they

belief that they are superior to others around them, they need to be told how wonderful they are,

they believe that they should be treated with the highest respect and given material items when

they go places, they have no problem using someone to get what they want, they cannot relate to

4 Narcissism

others, they get exceedingly jealous of others relationships, and they believe that they are the

only one who can solve problem with getting the creating answer to do so (Jenkins, 2019).

Humans have a need for admiration and will have times of self-importance, and will

occasionally lack empathy for others, but as long the characteristics and traits are within the

typical range and not an exceeding amount, there is no need to worry, especially if there are signs

in younger children. Narcissistic Personality Disorder usually develops in adolescence or during

early adulthood. It is not unusual for children or young adults to display signs or traits similar to

those of NPD.

Narcissism is a big deal today due to the increased pressure on kids to achieve greatness.

When we tell adolescents that they need to do better, give too much praise, or belittle them,

adults will start to create narcissistic thoughts about themselves. When parents tell their kids that

achievements are defined by getting good grades, getting into the best college, and getting the

best job, then they the focus of thought is on the ones self and they see will start to see others as

merely objects. If the sole purpose of a child’s life is too building a prolific portfolio of

themselves, then of course a child is going to grow up only looking out for themselves and have

vastly little to no concern for others.

A few things I had wondered when watching Dr. Paul Jenkins video was if there was a

way that we could teach children to get along and help them see from another person’s point of

view and since we start to see the changes in adolescents, does that mean that narcissism can

evolve with age? Babies, young children, and adolescents need us for survival, but it is up to the

parent as the child gets older to be empathetic and think about others around.

5 Narcissism

Component 2

Research Application

Adolescents are stereotyped as overconfident, less hardworking, callous, emotionally

unstable, dishonest, and most commonly as narcissistic. In recent years, researches have begun to

reevaluate whether young adults, today, are more narcissistic than older children and adults from

another decade. In a world full of change, why would anyone expect narcissism, to not change

across one’s life span?

Aside from the fact of how narcissism changes within an individual’s own life is whether

people in more recent history report higher levels of narcissism. “People from more recent

history are higher in narcissism, lower in empathy, higher in attachment avoidance, use more

positive self-evaluation statements, and display more problematic or narcissistic behavior”

(Chopik & Grimm, 2019). American culture creates narcissism by the books, songs, magazine

and newspaper articles, and even political debates. It has been speculated by researches that these

differences are coming from different sources, including changes in the way parents raise their

children, how cultural norms have changed, and how the introduction of technology (Chopik &

Grimm, 2019).

In the study done by W.J. Chopik and K.J. Grimm they started by looking at other studies

in the past. The data sets that Chopik and Grimm looked at most commonly used the personality

data from the Block and Block Longitudinal Study of Cognitive and Ego Development or

otherwise known as the Block and Block Study. The Block and Block Study examined

personality and cognitive development from childhood to early adulthood for a sample of 128

children (Block and Block Longitudinal Study, 2006). In two samples Chopik and Grimm looked

at, the ages from one study was 43 to 53 and the another was from the ages 34-59. Another

6 Narcissism

sample that W.J. Chopik and K.J. Grimm looked at was a data sample from the ages 14-23, but

this sample did not examine rank-order and mean-level change across the assessment points in

concert with other data sets. Chopik and Grimm wanted to examine the longitudinal changes in

four studies of narcissism to draw a picture on how narcissism can change throughout one’s life

and even throughout history.

The first study that W.J. Chopik and K.J. Grimm looked at was the Block and Block

Longitudinal Study from 1968. The study consisted of 107 participants and over 50% of the

partakers were female. The ages collected from this data were 14, 18, and 23, with the ethnic

make-up was “68.3% Caucasian, 24% African American, 4.8% Asian American, and 2.9% other

ethnicities” (Chopik & Grimm, 2019).

The next study Chopik and Grimm examined was the Intergenerational Studies

comprised of 354 individuals and this study consisted of a 53.7% female participants. The

Intergenerational Study was an umbrella study, combining studies from Berkeley Guidance

Study, Oakland Growth Study, and Berkeley Growth Study (Chopik & Grimm, 2019). The three

studies spanned from the years of 1920’s to the 1930’s. The Berkeley Guidance and Growth

Studies collected samples from infants babies in the years spanning from 1928 to 1929, while the

Oakland Growth Study began in 1932 and sampled children in fifth and sixth grade classes.

Participants from the Berkeley Growth and Oakland Growth Study were all Caucasian and only

3% from the Guidance Study were African American.

The third study was from Mills Longitudinal Study conducted in the years of 1958 to

1960. There were 112 participants from the senior class at Mills College in Oakland, California

ranging from ages 21 to 43. The study was predominately composed of Caucasians, while the

7 Narcissism

accurate percent of other racial/ ethnic groups were not available. Over 60% of the participants

had earned a certificate or graduate-level education (Chopik & Grimm, 2019).

The last study Chopik and Grimm examined was the Radcliffe College Class of 1964. All

176 participants were female and was collected from Radcliffe College in Cambridge,

Massachusetts. The ages collected from the study were between 42 and 72 and all but one

woman was European American (Chopik & Grimm, 2019). Over 80% of the woman from this

sample had completed a selection of graduate-level education. A combination of the samples

concluded that the average age being sampled was 39 years, over 70% were female, and there

were over 2,282 observations conducted.

In order for Grimm and Chopik to examine whether or not narcissism changes throughout

our life span, they used a growth curve model in the SPSS Mixed command, which was

comprised of hypersensitivity, willfulness, and autonomy. This allowed them to model

intraindividual changes and moderators of these changes (Chopik & Grimm, 2019). Their theory

of if birth cohorts changed in narcissism was addressed in three ways. The first birth cohort was

examining the differences between an exploratory fashion in the context multicultural models.

The second was a contrast between historical time and narcissism while controlling the age. The

final way was to look at birth year differences in other geographical location to spot a detailed

pattern of historical changes in narcissism (Chopik & Grimm, 2019).

As a final result the ages examined for changes in narcissism were from 13 to 77.

Subsequently the results of the analysis were, hypersensitivity was declining across our life span,

mainly seen after the age of 40. Willfulness was declining across our life span, were men are

higher in willfulness than women. “Decomposing this interaction revealed that women

experienced the greatest declines in willfulness during young adulthood; men experienced slight

8 Narcissism

increases in willfulness early in the life span before declining in later life” (Chopik & Grimm,

2019). Results of autonomy was increasing over our life span. “Decomposing this interaction

revealed that women had sharper increases in autonomy across the life span, especially after

middle age, albeit this effect was small” (Chopik & Grimm, 2019).

Grimm and Chopik found that while hypersensitivity and willfulness declined through

life and autonomy increased, they did find that later born cohorts were lower in hypersensitivity

and higher in autonomy, which is agreeable to their theory of narcissism changing throughout

history. “Because gender was associated with narcissism in the current study and in past work,

we concluded it as a covariate and moderating variable of age-related changes in narcissism”

(Chopik & Grimm, 2019). In Chopik’s and Grimm’s updated study there was no consistent or no

variables to operationalize changes in the variables, which left them with simply informative data

on how narcissism can change.

For the future, I would like to see a more recent study and a better ethnical range, age

range, location range, and how the participants grew up. I think a big part of narcissism can come

from how a person grew up and where the person grew up. With autonomy increasing, people

high in autonomy might live in environments that are beneficial to supporting their lifestyle and

have less changes of someone dulling their positions. From my standpoint, if researchers

examined and restudied this theory, they might find some surprising results. We live in the most

advanced time and I can only assume that narcissism has only grown with the progression of

social media.

9 Narcissism

Component 3

Theory 1: Nature-Nurture theory

There is a saying out there that some masterminds, whether that be a musician, an artist,

an athlete, or a politician, are “born, not made”. In some ways that leads true, but our DNA

imprints significantly holds what our personalities and even our talents will be. Nevertheless,

some of these traits we not “born” in us, but can be created in us.

Narcissism may be an outcome from the complex interactions between genes and the

environment. The thinking goes that people contrast in their genetic make-up and have a grander

or minor potential to become narcissistic. However, environmental aspects can help influence the

expression of narcissistic tendencies. From this outlook, people who are genetically susceptible

to narcissism will change if, for example, they are raised in a surrounding in which their

caregivers lack sensitivity. People who naturally lean toward confidence or liveliness will

become narcissistic if their caregivers are not in tune to their needs.

Narcissism is based on two beliefs attributed to infants, omnipotence and limitlessness

(Carlson, Vazire, & Oltmanns, 2011). Before birth, we use up the better part of our first year

living in an environment intended to accommodate to our every need. This provides our first year

of life with everything a developing person needs and then we are advanced out of this safe

space, that was created of us, into a world that is extremely different from what we had

previously known before. At no other time in life can the strength or the shortcomings of a

person have so much influence as when a caregiver takes on the role of the sole role model to a

child solely dependent on them for their very need.

A baby cries and their needs are met. With time, babies learn that a quick response may

not come, but that their caregivers will attend to them gradually as seen fit for the situation. This

10 Narcissism

cycle can create a bond of trust and acknowledgment between the caregiver and the baby

(Carlson, Vazire, & Oltmanns, 2011). This is healthy and crucial for the development of a healthy

self-worth and the ability to engross in a mutually pleasing adult relationships.

We learn that omnipotence, unlimited or great power, is impossible and that we face

personal limits in our relationships. We are able to recognize that we need others to meet our

needs and that our behaviors must conform to the situations that we are in, in order to getting our

desires met. This is about creating a balance of separateness, togetherness, and mutual support. It

sounds simple, but narcissists have put up solid walls that protect them from absorbing these


Admittedly, it can be crushing to even the most emotionally well-balanced person to

suddenly be in charge for the survival of another. Some people, however, cannot rise to the

challenge due to the limits of their own emotional development. Thus, when an infant is unable

to develop trust and to accept that her caregiver will meet their needs, unpleasant consequences

can result. Without learning about the limits of power and control within a healthy early

relationship, the desire to control others and command the disbanding of another’s personal

boundaries circumscribes can hinder their efforts at developing successful relationships in


It seems that excessive praise and excessive criticism can both cause a child to develop

narcissistic personality traits once they reach adulthood. “Some people seem to model the

attitudes and behavior of narcissistic parents, while still others react to childhood neglect by

becoming very self-centered and independent in adulthood” (The Ranch, 2017). Mental health

professionals who analyze narcissistic personality disorder causes are unanimous in concluding

that genetics, parental exposures, and other environmental influences combine to produce adults

11 Narcissism

who exhibit narcissistic personality characteristics. Erik Turkheimer stated that it is difficult to

find clear-cut answers to the nature-nurture because it takes researchers back to the bigger

question of relationships with the natural world (Turkheimer, 2020). People may be born with

certain predispositions to narcissism, but if they have stable and happy childhoods those potential

traits are far less likely to manifest.

The latest lifespan-based research based on Grimm’s and Chopik’s research on how

narcissism changes from adolescence to older adulthood is noteworthy because, unlike a large

amount of studies on narcissism, Grimm and Chopik did not rely on cross-sectional samples,

which only offer a snapshot of narcissism over a short period of time. Which can only lead me to

believing that the number is much greater than what their research shows us.

Theory 2: Psychoanalytic theories

The psychodynamic model of narcissism is led by two overlapping sets of thought, the

self-psychology school and the object relations school (Narcissism: Psychological Disorder,

Theories, Treatment, n.d.). The self-psychology school suggests that narcissism is a component

of everyone’s psyche. We are all born as narcissists and gradually as we grow up to adults,

narcissism matures into a healthy adult narcissism.

A narcissistic disorder results when this process is somehow interrupted. “By contrast the

object relations school argues that narcissism does not result from the arrest of the normal

maturation of infantile narcissism, rather a narcissism represents a fixation in one of the

developmental periods of childhood” (Narcissism: Psychological Disorder, Theories, Treatment,

n.d.). Specifically, the narcissist is fixated at a developmental stage in which the differentiation

between the self and others is blurred.

12 Narcissism

Freud believed that early childhood experiences held high importance on the

development of personality and that analyzing the harms of the past could unlock a person’s

development later in their life (Thompson, 2019). We have seen time and time again that parents

spoil their children and trying to mold the child into someone that the parent could not be. In this

regard, this is making the child responsible for the frustrations and the deepest desires of the

parent’s ego. That is why when Freud talked about the unconscious mind, narcissism and

projections, the parents love becomes more of a love for themselves and how they believe they

were as a child or how they wished they would have been. To the child, this is seen as a normal

loving relationship, they do not know any different.

The father or mother who projects narcissistic tendencies onto their child does not want

their son or daughter to lack what they longed for or desired. In turn, they see in their children

the perfect representation of their ideal self. It is possible that the narcissism that the parent is

unconscious or that at least the parent never explicitly responses on this behavior.

In some scenarios, children may reflect these tendencies in different ways. Sometimes,

they assume the roles that were “assigned” to them, generating disorders that affect them later in

life, and which will make them rebel later because they feel abandoned.

As a result, insecurity in one’s own worth and agency arises. Insecure attachment to a

parental figure can hinder the child to properly navigate through the perilous waters of early

childhood development (Epstein Mind, 2019). The child’s mind will start to feel shame for the

pain they are suffering from. The shameful feelings display an issue with shortage which the

child will struggle to fight off. These feelings of low self-worth torture the child deserting them

feeling “wrong.” The feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation leave them feeling like an outcast as

no one can seemingly relate to their struggle and force them into a very self-protective position.

13 Narcissism

This feeling of abandonment is due to the unassuming reason that the relationship between the

child and the parent does not exist. In this regard, the child can set in motion of controlling


Theory 3: Trait Theory of Personality

Narcissistic personality is characterized as showing an overwhelming need for admiration

and attention, lacking empathy, and feelings of grandness (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, n.d.).

Narcissists tend to make friends quickly, but they will have an extremely hard time keeping these

friendships due to the fact that they think they are never wrong. Narcissists tend to be attracted to

leadership positions and it is likely that these characteristics that facilitate a narcissistic

individual can be a leader, which could potentially lead to being a destructive leader. Narcissistic

predispositions make it unlikely that narcissists will successfully engage in leader development.

Narcissists tend to be sensitive to criticism, so having someone with narcissism associated with

a leader position can lead to resistance.

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