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Ratings of affective and interpersonal tendencies differ for grandiose and vulnerable narcissism: A replication and extension of Gore and Widiger (2016)

Journal of Personality

Published online on


Objective Theoretical conceptions of narcissism have long been characterized by two seemingly opposing poles: grandiosity and vulnerability. The goal of the current study was to investigate the extent to which traits associated with one profile are perceived to co‐occur with the other within an individual. Method Lay raters (N = 862; 56% female; 80% Caucasian; Mage = 37) recruited from Amazon's MTurk were assigned to one of four conditions in which they rated how often a series of narcissistic traits were displayed by a prototypical grandiose narcissist, a vulnerable narcissist, a close friend, or themselves. Vulnerable narcissism items were specifically worded to assess internalizing‐ versus externalizing‐based emotional responses. Results Results suggest that grandiosely narcissistic individuals are seen as responding angrily to ego‐threatening situations, whereas vulnerably narcissistic individuals are seen as responding with a broader array of negative emotions, including anger, sadness, and shame. In contrast, vulnerably narcissistic individuals were not rated as consistently demonstrating behaviors, attitudes, or cognitions associated with grandiose narcissism. Conclusions Grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic individuals both exhibit anger in response to ego threat, but sadness/shame responses are more characteristic of vulnerable narcissism.