What’s In It For Me? Why Narcissists Help Others
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Undergraduate Research Theses; 2017
Grandiose and vulnerable narcissists are both self-absorbed and highly entitled, yet they can also exhibit prosocial behavior, helping others under some circumstances. We predict that grandiose and vulnerable narcissists differ in their motivations to help, and these motivations may be influenced by their interpersonal goals and the perceived status of the target they wish to help. First, participants completed self-report measures assessing their levels of grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, and their interpersonal goals. Next, they completed a behavioral measure of helpfulness, where participants could help a fictitious partner complete a tangram task. We manipulated the status of their partner so participants perceived a low-status partner (high school student), an equal-status partner (same year in college), or a high-status partner (a graduate student). Results show that both narcissistic subtypes help when put in a situation where helping is normative but reported different helping motivations and experiences. For example, after helping, grandiose narcissists felt superior, special, respected, and like a hero –these effects were sometimes amplified when participants were also high in self-image goals or were helping a low-status individual. In comparison, vulnerable narcissists were less likely to help low-status individuals and reported motivations to help such as appearing likable, not being judged by the partner, and not being judged by the researcher. These results suggest grandiose and vulnerable narcissists may use helping as a way to boost their ego but in different ways (e.g. either for self-enhancement or social approval).
Academic Major: Psychology