Profiling the Interpersonal Orientations of High- and Low-Self-Esteem Narcissistic People

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University of Alabama Libraries

Understanding how narcissism and self-esteem predict outcomes has been a major focus in recent decades. Most researchers treat narcissism and self-esteem as related constructs that additively “compete” to push people in more desirable (via self-esteem) or undesirable (via narcissism) directions, but other researchers suggest narcissism and self-esteem interact to influence outcomes. Since research on this interaction is rare, it remains unclear how self-esteem may modify the expression of narcissism, but some theorizing suggests self-esteem may modify narcissism’s relations to agency (getting ahead) and/or communion (getting along). In the context of the Interpersonal Circumplex, the present study (N = 598) tested agentic and communal differences between high- and low-self-esteem narcissistic people’s interpersonal efficacies, values, problems, and sensitivities via circumplex measurement. Results generally suggested self-esteem modified narcissism’s relations to communion; for example, low- and high-self-esteem narcissistic people possessed an agentic orientation, but high-self-esteem narcissistic people possessed a less uncommunal interpersonal orientation with less interpersonal dysfunction. Overall, the interaction model of narcissism and self-esteem seems superior to additive models in contexts involving communal tendencies and social dysfunction.

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