L'autore dell'articolo riportato in basso fa una strana proposta:
tenersi alla larga dai narcisisti, ovvero quelli che al primo incontro vi sembrano più brillanti e preferire chi è più timido.
Pare infatti che i narcisisti riescano a piacere soprattutto all'inizio della conoscenza, in quanto attraenti, carismatici, competenti nel relazionarsi, simpatici.
E' nel lungo termine che non se la cavano, perché nella dipendenza dell'ammirazione altrui, rovinano proprio quelle relazioni da cui dipendono.
ma è proprio sicuro che un nerd sia meglio?
Stay away from jerks, he suggests....
Emmons (1984) distinguishes four facets of narcissism:
Leadership/Authority -those who enjoy being a leader and being seen as an authority,
Self-Absorption/Self Admiration those who admire their own physical appearance and personality,
Superiority/Arrogance -those who overestimate their own abilities
Exploitativeness/Entitlement -those who enjoy manipulating and exploiting others and expect favors from others. ( these four facets are only moderately related to one another and there is a lot of variability amongst narcissists in terms of how their narcissism is expressed.
Narcissists don't play well with others, and this becomes clearer in the long-term.
Narcissists don't tend to do well in long-term relationships, and suffer from all sorts of intra- and interpersonal problems. Study (1998) found that after the seventh roughly 2.5 hour student work group session, narcissists were rated by the other members of the group as less agreeable, less well adjusted, less warm, and more hostile and arrogant.
But here's the kicker (or paradox). In that same study, Paulhus found that after the first meeting, narcissists were rated as more agreeable, conscientious, open, competence, entertaining, and well adjusted by the other members of the group. What a contrast to what the group members thought of the very same narcissistic individuals on the seventh day!
Mitja D. Back and colleagues sought out to determine why narcissists are popular at "zero acquaintance". They propose that narcissists are more popular at first sight because of the cues they produce, which people at first acquaintance can use to "thin-slice" and form an impression of that person without any further information about that person.
They investigated four cues which they hypothesized based on prior research (Berscheid & Reis, 1998) would be related to the popularity of narcissists at first sight and why people often describe narcissists as having a "charismatic air": attractiveness, competence, interpersonal warmth, and humor.
narcissists tended to be more liked at first sight. Also as predicted, narcissists exhibited neater and flashier appearances, more charming facial expressions, more self-assured body movement, and more humorous verbal expressions.
Not all facets of narcissism were equally predictive of popularity[…..]
"the positive social reactions that narcissists evoke in others at first sight might play an important role in maintaining their problematic interpersonal behavior and intrapersonal coping mechanisms that are dysfunctional in the long run."
So the positive feedback that narcissists receive at first acquaintance confirms their superiority and strengthens their search for similar situations that will allow them to get similar responses. I think Back and colleagues are right on the money when they say that "being admired by others is like a drug for narcissists." The problem for narcissists is that their addiction to admiration
"hinders them from establishing relationships or from sticking with social contexts in which they are embedded for a longer period of time...the positive interpersonal reactions narcissists evoke at zero acquaintance are an important part of the vicious interpersonal cycle that narcissists experience."
But what about the narcissist who could care less about maintaining deep and meaningful relationships? Well, since most narcissists don't care about the long-term (they tend to be more impulsive anyway), their desire to exploit others and their sense of entitlement is adaptive for them in the short-term, even if it hurts others. Back and colleagues do show that narcissists scoring high on the Exploitativeness/Entitlement facet are more popular at zero acquaintance. As the researchers note, the consideration of the different facets of narcissicm as well as the varied situational circumstance that these facets can display themselves (short term vs. long term) can be combined to more fully understand the social consequences of narcissism.
Another paradox, which Emmons (1996) called the narcissistic paradox, is the narcissts' tendency to simultaneously devalue others while at the same time needing the admiration of others. As Morf & Rhodewalt (2001) put it, as narcissists "yearn and reach for self-affirmation, they destroy the very relationships on which they are dependent."
Back and colleagues note that narcissists can ‘solve' the paradox by only relying on positive feedback from those with zero acquaintance whom they do not have to value.
Because others truly like narcissists at first sight, they contribute to the maintenance of the narcissists' most paradoxical mindset."
Blogging is a terrific arena for narcissists, if not the best arena imaginable. Narcissistic bloggers can get a constant stream of admiration from complete strangers in the form of comments after each blog post. The blogger doesn't have to value the commentator or form a relationship with the commentator. In fact, the commentator is helping to feed the narcisstic blogger's addiction for instant admiration. And comments that are too critical can easily be deleted.
Another paradox lies in the developmental pathway to narcissism, especially the role of parental reactions. Which type of parent contributes to the narcissistic child, the parent who overvalues the child (as some researchers have speculated) or the parents who undervalues the child (as other researchers have speculated)? As Back and colleagues note, a combination of both overvaluation and devaluation can contribute to narcissism. The overvaluation/devaluation combo has been suggested by Freud and has received some recent empirical support (Otway & Vignoles, 2006). According to Back et al.,
"The existence of both excessive but indiscriminate parental praise as well as continuous implicit parental messages of coldness and rejection, rather than warmth and acceptance, ‘may help to explain the paradoxical combination of grandiosity and fragility that is so characteristic of adult narcissists' (Otway & Vignoles, 2006, p. 113)."
A fourth paradox is the narcissist's lack of insight. Back and colleagues suggest that it is this short-term positive feedback that contributes to the narcisst's lack of self-criticsm because they don't see a need for it.
"Because of their ongoing selfishness, they do not get affective support in the long run, and they do not manage to develop intimate relationships. As a consequence, their self stays vulnerable, making immediate admiration even more necessary, and so forth. In research on as well as treatments of narcissists' self-insight, one should focus on both the intrapersonal mechanisms of narcissists and the social reactions that narcissists actually receive."
We tend to be attracted to people who possess the four qualities (flashy and neat dress, charming facial expression, self-assured body movements, and humorous verbal expression) that narcissists tend to (initially) possess. And to complicate matters, the JPSP study suggests that if someone at first encounter has all four qualities, chances are they are a narcissist. And not just any kind of narcissist, but the very worst kind- the kind that enjoys exploiting others while feeling a sense of entitlement in doing so.
So what are we supposed to do, intentionally go for those who show the traits that are exactly the opposite of what is generally considered attractive?
Message to all those who are sick of being duped by narcissists, assholes, chauvinistics, etc. is to change the script entirely. Girls, next time you go to a club, approach every single guy you see who looks shy and awkward and is standing in the corner of the dance floor sipping his drink too fast. Give the guy a chance who approaches you and isn't smooth at all but seems like he is genuinely interested in you (i.e., me!). Give those a chance who don't at first display all four super attractive qualities and see if after talking to them for a little while and you've given them a chance to open up a bit, if they start to naturally turn on the qualities you are seeking in a potential mate/friend. (OK, I admit what I'm calling for here sounds like an en mass revenge of the nerds scheme. Well, why not? It's my blog and I can pontificate if I want to!)
Too many people are too hard on themselves for falling for the jerk time and time again. The JPSP study suggests that there is a definite rational reason why you fall for these kind of people- they do tend to have attractive qualities. They just also tend to be jerks.
This is the most sensible advice I can think of at this moment. I'm totally up for suggestions though. The appeal of the bad boy, the allure of the narcissist, the attraction of the jerk, etc. etc. is such a re-occuring theme across humanity that I'm happy to see some real empirical research finally shedding some light on these issues.
© 2010 by Scott Barry Kaufman