Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Narcissistic People Most Likely To Emerge As Leaders

Having a natural aversion for absolute statements, in regards to things like human behavior, I hope that it is not true that all of the candidates who have run for president were higher than average in narcissism. I expect a large percentage are, but surely some of them would be in the high self-esteem, but not narcissistic group. It is a position where a person can do a great deal of good.


COLUMBUS, Ohio – When a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups. Narcissism is a trait in which people are self-centered, exaggerate their talents and abilities, and lack empathy for others.

“Not only did narcissists rate themselves as leaders, which you would expect, but other group members also saw them as the people who really run the group,” said Amy Brunell, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University at Newark.

Narcissists, by definition, are self-centered and overconfident in their own abilities.

The researchers found similar results in two separate studies involving college students, and one involving business managers in an MBA program.

And while narcissists are more likely to become leaders, results of one of the studies suggests that, once in power, narcissists don’t perform any better than others in that leadership role.

“It’s not surprising that narcissists become leaders,” Brunell said.

“They like power, they are egotistical, and they are usually charming and extraverted. But the problem is, they don’t necessarily make better leaders.”
...It is important not to confuse narcissism with high self-esteem, she said.

“A person with high self-esteem is confident and charming, but they also have a caring component and they want to develop intimacy with others,” Brunell explained. “Narcissists have an inflated view of their talents and abilities and are all about themselves. They don’t care as much about others.”

Brunell said she believes the results apply to many parts of life, from the politics of the presidential race to Wall Street.

“Many people have observed that it takes a narcissistic person to run for president of the United States,” she said. “I would be surprised if any of the candidates who have run weren’t higher than average in narcissism.”

The same is true for the leaders of Wall Street firms that have made and lost millions of dollars in the past few years.

“There have been a lot of studies that have found narcissistic leaders tend to have volatile and risky decision-making performance and can be ineffective and potentially destructive leaders,” she said.

However, that doesn’t mean all the troubles in Washington or Wall Street can be blamed on narcissistic leaders.

“I’m sure some of these leaders had to be overconfident and too sure of their abilities. But there’s a lot more behind the troubles of government and business than the personalities of their leaders.”

Brunell’s co-authors on the study were William Gentry, W. Keith Campbell, Brian Hoffman and Karl Kuhnert from the University of Georgia, and Kenneth DeMarree, a graduate student at Ohio State.

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