Consensual Lay Profiles of Narcissism and Their Connection to the Five-Factor Narcissism Inventory

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Abstract

Although there is evidence that experts agree on the traits that characterize narcissism, this agreement may be due, in part, to the influence of the operationalizations based on the American Psychiatric Association’s series of Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980, 1994, 2013). Because these trait descriptions are important in shaping conceptualizations and serving as empirical criteria for construct validation, we explored their generalizability. In Study 1, we collected lay ratings (N = 1,792) of prototypical cases of narcissism across 15 different categories (e.g., gender, age, occupational status) on the 30 traits of the five-factor model (FFM). There was good agreement within and across rating categories and the trait profiles were quite similar to existing ratings made by academicians and clinicians. In Study 2 (N = 603), we examined the degree to which various scores from the Five-Factor Narcissism Inventory–Short Form (FFNI-SF; Sherman et al., 2015) provided empirical matches to these FFM profiles (mean lay ratings from Study 1; existing expert-based and meta-analytically derived profiles). In general, scores from the FFNI-SF grandiose scale, as well as the empirically derived FFNI-SF Antagonism and Agentic Extraversion components yielded FFM profiles closely aligned to the various consensus profiles. These results are generally consistent with a burgeoning literature that suggests that the FFNI/FFNI-SF is a promising tool for the study of narcissism given its comprehensiveness, flexibility, and ties to the predominant model of personality.

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