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Personal control decreases narcissistic but increases non‐narcissistic in‐group positivity

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Journal of Personality

Published online on


Objective We examined the effects of control motivation on in‐group positivity. Past research suggests that people compensate for low personal control by increasing support for social in‐groups. We predicted that the effect of personal control on in‐group positivity would depend on the type of in‐group positivity. Low personal control should increase compensatory, narcissistic in‐group positivity, whereas high personal control should increase secure, non‐narcissistic in‐group positivity. Method These hypotheses were tested in a cross‐sectional survey (Study 1 N = 1,083, 54% female, Mage = 47.68), two experiments (Study 2 N = 105, 50% female, Mage = 32.05; Study 3 N = 154, 40% female, Mage = 29.93), and a longitudinal survey (Study 4 N = 398, 51% female, Mage = 32.05). Results In all studies, personal control was negatively associated with narcissistic in‐group positivity but positively associated with non‐narcissistic in‐group positivity. The longitudinal survey additionally showed that the positive relationship between personal control and non‐narcissistic in‐group positivity was reciprocal. Moreover, both types of in‐group positivity differentially mediated between personal control and out‐group attitudes: Narcissistic in‐group positivity predicted negative attitudes, and non‐narcissistic positivity predicted positive attitudes. Conclusions These findings highlight the role of individual motivation in fostering different types of in‐group positivity and intergroup outcomes.