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Expensive Egos & Narcissism

January 25, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Narcissism is a personality trait that is defined by an inflated sense of grandiosity, self-importance, and overestimations of uniqueness. A University of Michigan psychologist, Sara Konrath, was quoted as saying in a recent study published in PLoS One, “Narcissistic men may be paying a high price in terms of their physical health, in addition to the psychological cost to their relationships.” The study shows that the level of narcissism is rising in the United States and tends to be more prevalent in men.

One hundred and six undergraduate students were examined by Sara Konrath, David Reinhard of the University of Virginia, William Lopez and Heather Cameron of the University of Michigan. They measured the students´ levels of cortisol, a marker of physiological stress, based on the role of narcissism and sex. They measured the levels of cortisol through gathered samples of salvia at two points in time to assess a base. They were not allowed to be stressed at the time. If levels were elevated at a non-stressful state of mind, then the result would be chronic hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) activation and would increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

The researchers had to assess students´ narcissism by administering a 40 question survey that measures five personality trait components: exploitativeness, entitlement (more unhealthy), leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, and self-absorption/self-admiration (the more adaptive or healthy components). They found that higher cortisol levels and the more dangerous aspects of narcissism were associated in males, but not females.

“Even though narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened. These kinds of coping strategies are linked with increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress and higher blood pressure, so it makes sense that higher levels of maladaptive narcissism would contribute to highly reactive stress response systems and chronically elevated levels of stress,” David Reinhard was quoted as saying,

SOURCE: PLoS One, January 2012