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Narcissism isn’t all bad, study says it can lower stress levels and chances of depression

Researchers at Queen's University of Belfast say narcissists are 'mentally tough' and less likely to be affected by rejections. 

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Bengaluru: Narcissism may be considered a negative personality trait but a new study has found that it can actually make people less vulnerable to depression, stress and other mental disorders. Narcissists are ‘mentally tough’ and less likely to be affected by rejections.

The findings are part of an ongoing research by the Queen’s University of Belfast. Two papers have already been published on the subject so far. The findings are based on three independent studies, each involving more than 700 adults and highlighting some positive effects of narcissism on mental illnesses.

Kostas Papageorgiou, lead author of the study and director of the InteRRaCt Lab in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University, said in a press statement: “Narcissism is part of the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy and Sadism. There are two main dimensions to narcissism — grandiose and vulnerable. Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behaviour of others as hostile whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power.”

He also explained that narcissistic individuals tend to engage in risky behaviour, show less empathy, have less guilt and shame, and are always overconfident.

Mental toughness 

Papageorgiou’s team had set to understand why narcissism still persists if it is considered a negative social behaviour, why it seems to on the rise among individuals and why this trait is often ‘rewarded more than punished’.

They discovered that ‘grandiose narcissism’ can act like a shield and add to mental toughness, protecting individuals against the negative impacts of rejection, shame and anxiety. Narcissists are less stressed, have an increased sense of confidence and focused on their goals.

Grandiose narcissists also have an obsession with power and they are likely to embrace challenges rather then view them as obstacles in their path to success. To them, narcissism effectively acts as a self-defence mechanism.

Papageorgiou said: “While of course not all dimensions of narcissism are good, certain aspects can lead to positive outcomes. [The move forward] could also facilitate the development of research-informed suggestions on how best to cultivate some manifestations of these traits, while discouraging others, for the collective good.”

Also read: No, eating chocolate won’t cure depression


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