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Individuals scoring high on trait narcissism are characterised by grandiosity, self-centredness, and lack of empathy, resulting in troubled interpersonal relationships (e.g., with acquaintances and relationship partners). Do these troubled relationships extend to their own children? In this online study of 368 parents, we examined whether grandiose narcissists are less likely to adopt optimal parenting styles (authoritative) and more likely to adopt non-optimal parenting styles (authoritarian and permissive) and began to explore underlying mechanisms in terms of low empathy and unresponsive-caregiving. Narcissism was negatively associated with optimal parenting, and positively associated with non-optimal parenting, controlling for Big Five personality and attachment dimensions. Sequential mediation revealed that narcissists’ low empathy predicts unresponsive-caregiving towards their child(ren), which in turn predicts low optimal and high non-optimal parenting practices. These effects are driven by narcissists’ maladaptive traits. Exploring links between parental personality and parenting allows researchers to identify individuals at risk of poor parenting. Understanding the mechanisms that explain this relationship will assist in the development of effective interventions.
The Children of Narcissus: Insights into Narcissists' Parenting Styles
Claire M. Hart
University of Southampton
Reece D. Bush-Evans
University of Southampton
Erica G. Hepper
University of Surrey
Hannah M. Hickman
University of Southampton
Corresponding author: Claire M. Hart, Centre for Research on Self and Identity, Psychology
Department, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom. Email: Telephone: 44 (0)2380 592638.
Individuals scoring high on trait narcissism are characterised by grandiosity, self-
centredness, and lack of empathy, resulting in troubled interpersonal relationships (e.g., with
acquaintances and relationship partners). Do these troubled relationships extend to their own
children? In this online study of 368 parents, we examined whether grandiose narcissists are
less likely to adopt optimal parenting styles (authoritative) and more likely to adopt non-
optimal parenting styles (authoritarian and permissive) and began to explore underlying
mechanisms in terms of low empathy and unresponsive-caregiving. Narcissism was negatively
associated with optimal parenting, and positively associated with non-optimal parenting,
controlling for Big Five personality and attachment dimensions. Sequential mediation revealed
that narcissists’ low empathy predicts unresponsive-caregiving towards their child(ren), which
in turn predicts low optimal and high non-optimal parenting practices. These effects are driven
by narcissists’ maladaptive traits. Exploring links between parental personality and parenting
allows researchers to identify individuals at risk of poor parenting. Understanding the
mechanisms that explain this relationship will assist in the development of effective
Keywords: narcissism, empathy, caregiving, parenting
Parents play a critical role in a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social
development (Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991). Much work has focused on
delineating parenting styles and their consequences (Baumrind, 1971). There is surprisingly
less understanding of the individual differences that lead a parent to develop these styles, and
the underlying motivations. This article examines the contribution of subclinical narcissism—a
personality trait that is known to undermine interpersonal relationships (Campbell & Foster,
2002). In so doing, it aims to inform ways to support optimal parenting.
Parenting has been conceived in terms of three primary styles (Baumrind, 1971).
Authoritative parents exude warmth and encourage their children to freely express themselves.
They impose rules as a means to meet their children’s needs and explain reasons for these rules.
Authoritarian parents value obedience and respect for authority. They are directive, verbally
hostile, use physical punishment, and expect children to accept parental authority
unquestioningly. Permissive parents fail to monitor, or ignore, their children’s activities and
lack follow-through behaviours. These parenting dimensions are typically portrayed as trait-
like and stable across time (Baumrind, 1989).
Research has consistently shown that parenting styles differentially influence child
outcomes. Authoritative parenting emerges as the most optimal form (Baumrind, 1971), with
children of authoritative parents reporting higher self-confidence, self-reliance, better socio-
emotional and academic outcomes, and fewer externalising problems (Lamborn et al., 1991).
Authoritarian and permissive parenting (hereafter “non-optimal” parenting) have been
identified as risk factors for antisocial behaviour, low social competence, and poor academic
performance (Steinberg, Mounts, Lamborn, & Dornbusch, 1991). Long-term maladaptive
consequences of exposure to non-optimal parenting underscore the need for improved
understanding of predictors of such parenting. Identifying individuals likely to experience
parenting difficulties, and understanding their motivations for adopting differing parenting
styles, allows researchers to develop more effective preventative measures or interventions.
Although widely acknowledged that parenting is multiply determined, parental
personality has been at the forefront of this research: Extensive correlational evidence links
personality to parenting styles (Prinzie, Stams, Deković, Reijntjes, & Belsky, 2009). In the
literature on the Big Five, parents high in extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness,
emotional stability, and openness display more optimal and less non-optimal parenting (Prinzie
et al., 2009). In the attachment literature, a secure attachment style has been related to optimal
parenting, and insecure attachment to non-optimal parenting (Jones, Cassidy, & Shaver, 2015).
These literatures support the value of considering personality in parenting research.
Despite the volume of research examining parent personality on parenting practices,
little has explored the underlying mechanisms, which are crucial to informing effective
interventions (for an exception; Millings, Walsh, Hepper, & O’Brien, 2013). A key personality
variable that shapes interpersonal motivation and warrants exploration in the parenting context
is narcissism. Subclinical grandiose narcissism is a normally-distributed personality trait
associated with high agency (reflecting dominance and superiority) and low communion
(reflecting lack of caring for others; Campbell & Foster, 2007). Narcissism entails inflated self-
views and diverse self-enhancement and self-protection efforts, including attention-seeking,
and taking credit for success but blaming others for failure (Hepper, Gramzow, & Sedikides,
2010). Narcissists react aggressively to criticism, game-play in romantic relationships, and lack
empathy for others (Baumeister, Bushman, & Campbell, 2000; Campbell & Foster, 2002;
Hepper, Hart, & Sedikides, 2014a). Thus, the costs of their poor interpersonal functioning are
borne by those around them, including friends and romantic partners. Empirical research
examining subclinical narcissism in a family context is scant, with only one article exploring
effects of narcissistic parenting on their own children (Dentale et al., 2015).
Understanding narcissism in relation to parenting is a timely venture. Grandiose
narcissism is on the rise in Western cultures (Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell, & Bushman,
2008). These narcissistic millennials are the parents of the future. Extant literature has
examined only whether certain parenting practices (i.e., being neglectful vs. overly attentive)
creates narcissism in offspring (Brummelman et al., 2015). Little research has been devoted to
how narcissistic parents rear their children. This is the focus of the present study.
Are narcissistic parents more likely to engage in non-optimal than optimal parenting?
Because of narcissists’ lack of warmth towards others (Campbell & Foster, 2002) we predicted
a negative relationship between narcissism and authoritative parenting. Based on narcissists’
ego-involvement and defensiveness (Baumeister et al., 2000) we predicted a positive
relationship between narcissism and authoritarian parenting. Finally, given that narcissists
admit to not caring about others (Sedikides, Campbell, Reeder, Elliot, & Gregg, 2002) we
predicted a positive relationship between narcissism and permissive parenting.
In the only existing study to have examined parental narcissism and parenting (Dentale
et al., 2015), parental narcissism positively predicted child’s depression and anxiety, which was
mediated by reduced parental care, elevated parental shaming, overprotection, and favouritism.
This study provided initial evidence that narcissists may adopt non-optimal parenting which
may have damaging consequences for their children. However, rearing style was reported
retrospectively by the child and not the parent. This introduces potential recall bias; Mechanic
and Barry (2015) have shown that adolescents’ retrospective reports of parenting behaviours do
not match parent-reports because they are based on perceptions and not necessarily on what the
parents actually do. The use of child-reports also prevents the exploration of underlying
mechanisms or motivations.
The current study builds on prior evidence in four ways. First, we used parental self-
report measures that directly assess (non-) optimal parenting (Baumrind, 1971). Second, we
examined the influence of different aspects of narcissism. It is well-established that grandiose
narcissism entails both relatively adaptive (i.e., authority, self-sufficiency) and more
maladaptive (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, exhibitionism) aspects. Different subscales of
the commonly-used Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Raskin & Terry, 1988) can capture each
dimension (Barry, Frick, Adler, & Grafeman, 2007). Theoretically, the most maladaptive
ingredients of narcissism should relate most closely to non-optimal parenting. Third, we
controlled for established personality predictors of parenting (i.e., Big Five, attachment) to test
the unique contribution of narcissism. Fourth, we examined two psychological mechanisms that
underlie these parenting styles: empathy and caregiving-responsiveness.
Empathy comprises a cognitive (i.e., understanding others’ perspectives) and emotional
(i.e., sharing others’ emotions, feeling compassion) component (Davis, 1983). It has a profound
impact on interpersonal relationships. In a parenting context, absence of empathy is associated
with abusive parental behaviours (Wiehe, 2003). Research consistently shows that narcissists
lack empathy (Hepper et al., 2014a). Thus, we examined whether low empathy underscores
narcissists’ non-optimal parenting practices. Caregiving quality impacts parenting: Millings et
al. (2013) showed that responsive-caregiving towards a partner predicted increased use of
authoritative parenting styles, and unresponsive-caregiving towards a partner increased use of
authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. Although research has not directly explored
narcissists’ caregiving quality, Feeney and Collins (2001) showed that egoistic motivation
correlated negatively, albeit non-significantly, with responsive-caregiving. Moreover, empathy
might be a critical precursor to caregiving quality. Theoretically, the caregiving system is
activated by an empathic situation, such as an individual in distress (Mikulincer & Shaver,
2007). Although direct tests are scant, Feeney and Collins (2001) reported positive correlations
between prosocial orientations and responsive-caregiving. We thus tested the mediating
pathways between narcissism and parenting styles via (a) empathy, (b) caregiving-
responsiveness, and (c) a sequential pattern from empathy to caregiving-responsiveness (Figure
Participants (N = 408) were recruited online via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Data were
excluded from participants who were not parents (n = 10), did not complete the narcissism
measure (n = 6), or failed instructional manipulation checks (n = 24). The remaining 368
participants (235 female, 131 male, 2 undisclosed) were aged 18-75 years (M = 37.99, SD =
10.84), and were predominantly (75%) White Americans (6% Mixed race, 7% Other White, 7%
Black, 4% Other, 1% undisclosed). Most (98.9%) resided in America.
After providing consent, participants completed measures of personality in a
randomised order, followed by caregiving, and finally parenting. Each participant received
$1.50 upon study completion and written debriefing.
Narcissism. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Raskin & Terry, 1988) contains 40
forced-choice items. Participants choose between pairs of statements, one indicating high
narcissism (e.g., “I find it easy to manipulate people”), the other low (e.g., “I don't like it when
I find myself manipulating people”). The number of narcissistic choices is summed (α = .90, M
= 11.82, SD = 7.92, range = 0-35). Following Barry et al. (2007), we computed mean scores
for adaptive narcissism (i.e., authority and self-sufficiency items; α = .82, M = .41, SD = 0.26)
and maladaptive narcissism (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, and exhibitionism items; α = .
79, M = .21, SD = 0.19). Adaptive and maladaptive narcissism correlated positively, r(366) = .
66, p < .001.
Empathy. We used two 7-item subscales from The Interpersonal Reactivity Index
(Davis, 1983): Perspective-taking (e.g., “Before criticising somebody, I try to imagine how I
would feel if I were in their place”; α = .85), and Empathic-Concern (e.g., “I often have tender,
concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me”; α = .90) from 1 = not at all to 8 =
extremely. As narcissists lack both aspects of empathy (Hepper et al., 2014a; Hepper, Hart,
Meek, Cisek, & Sedikides, 2014b), and the subscales correlated moderately, r(128) = .50, p < .
001, we combined them into an empathy index (α = .91, M = 5.97, SD = 1.19).
Caregiving. We used an adapted version of the Caregiving Questionnaire (Kunce &
Shaver, 1994). We assessed three 8-item dimensions of caregiving: proximity, sensitivity, and
cooperation (e.g., “When, my child is troubled or upset, I move closer to provide support and
comfort”) from 1 = strongly disagree to 8 = strongly agree. We computed a responsive-
caregiving index (α = .92, M = 6.40, SD = 1.03) based on a composite mean of proximity (α = .
86), sensitivity (α = .90), and cooperation (α = .85).
Parenting. The Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (Robinson, Mandleco,
Olsen, & Hart, 1995) measures authoritative (27 items, α = .89, M = 4.04, SD = 0.61),
authoritarian (20 items, α = .85, M = 1.95, SD = 0.51), and permissive styles (15 items, α =.75,
M = 1.99, SD = 0.56). Parents rated the frequency of behaviours (e.g., “I encourage my child to
talk about his/her troubles”) from 1 = never to 5 = always.
Covariates. Due to the sensitive nature of some measures, we assessed social-
desirability using the impression-management subscale of The Balanced Inventory of Desirable
Responding Short-Form (BIDR-16; Hart, Ritchie, Hepper, & Gebauer, 2015; α = .78).
Participants rated 8 statements (e.g., “I never cover up my mistakes”) from 1 = strongly
disagree to 8 = strongly agree. We also assessed the Big Five and attachment (1 = strongly
disagree, 8 = strongly agree). The Ten-Item Personality Inventory (Gosling, Rentfrow, &
Swann, 2003) contains 2 items measuring each of the Big Five domains; Extraversion (M =
4.32, SD = 2.07, r[362] = .61), Neuroticism (M = 3.19, SD = 1.77, r[362] = .68), Agreeableness
(M = 6.40, SD = 1.37, r[362] = .39), Openness (M = 5.69, SD = 1.54, r[362] = .36), and
Conscientiousness (M = 6.40, SD = 1.46, r[362] = .55). The Experiences in Close Relationships
scale-Revised (Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000) contains 18-items assessing each of
attachment-avoidance (e.g., “I am nervous when people get too close to me”, M = 2.79, SD =
1.49, α = .96) and attachment-anxiety (e.g., “I need a lot of reassurance that I am loved by my
partner, M = 2.82, SD = 1.63, α = .96).
To examine whether narcissism can explain variation in parenting practices above
established personality predictors, we regressed each parenting style on impression-
management, sex, Big Five, and attachment (Step 1), and narcissism (Step 2). Adding total
narcissism to the model explained significant additional variance in authoritative parenting, ∆R2
= .02, F(1, 346) = 6.86, p = .009; and authoritarian parenting, ∆R2 = .05, F(1, 346) = 22.56, p
< .001; but not permissive ∆R2 = .00, F(1, 346) = .43, p = .51 (Table 1). This was also true
when examining the adaptive and maladaptive narcissism components: authoritative ∆R2 = .02,
F(1, 345) = 4.91, p = .008; authoritarian ∆R2 = .04, F(1, 345) = 9.97, p < .001; permissive ∆R2
= .00, F(1, 345) = 1.85, p = .16.
We next tested direct and indirect effects of narcissism on parenting styles via empathy
and caregiving using Hayes’ (2013) PROCESS. We did so using three narcissism indices: (a)
total narcissism, (b) adaptive narcissism (controlling for maladaptive narcissism), and (c)
maladaptive narcissism (controlling for adaptive narcissism).
For each model we tested four possible paths from narcissism to parenting style,
controlling for impression-management, sex, Big Five, and attachment (see Figure 1): a direct
effect (path c), an indirect effect via empathy (path a*e), an indirect effect via caregiving (path
b*f), and a sequential indirect effect via empathy and then caregiving (path a*d*f). The latter
indirect effect corresponds to the theoretical proposal that narcissists’ low empathy predicts
deficits in caregiving, which in turn shapes parenting style.
The total effects of total and maladaptive narcissism on authoritative parenting were
negative and significant, with the total effect of adaptive narcissism positive and non-
significant. The total effects of all three narcissism indices on authoritarian parenting were
positive, albeit non-significant for adaptive narcissism. The total effects of all narcissism
indices on permissive parenting were positive but non-significant (Table 2). Note that the
absence of significant total effects does not preclude the presence of an indirect effect (Hayes,
2013); for example, narcissism may predict permissive parenting indirectly via low empathy,
unresponsive-caregiving, or both.
The direct effects showed patterns consistent with past research. Total and maladaptive
narcissism were negatively associated with lower empathy. All narcissism indices were
negatively associated with unresponsive-caregiving, albeit non-significantly. Empathy
positively predicted caregiving-responsiveness. Empathy was positively and significantly
related to authoritative parenting, but unrelated to non-optimal parenting strategies.
Responsive-caregiving was positively associated with authoritative parenting and negatively
associated with authoritarian and permissive parenting. Thus, empathy and/or caregiving-
responsiveness could be acting as mediators between narcissism and parenting.
We next tested indirect effects from narcissism to each parenting style via empathy
(path a*e), caregiving-responsiveness (path b*f) and sequentially via empathy and caregiving
(path a*d*f). In the case of optimal parenting, the path from total, adaptive, and maladaptive
narcissism to authoritative parenting via empathy alone was significant. Those scoring higher
in total and maladaptive narcissism had lower empathy, which predicted less authoritative
parenting; interestingly, those higher in adaptive narcissism had higher empathy, which
predicted more authoritative parenting. None of the indices predicted authoritative parenting
via caregiving-responsiveness alone. However, the sequential indirect effects were significant
for all three narcissism indices: Those higher on total and maladaptive narcissism scored lower
on empathy, which predicted unresponsive-caregiving, which reduced the propensity to engage
in authoritative parenting. In contrast, those high on adaptive narcissism reported higher
empathy, which in turn predicted higher caregiving-responsiveness and authoritative parenting.
The direct effects of all narcissism indices on authoritative parenting were non-significant, thus
empathy and caregiving-responsiveness fully explained these associations.
In the case of non-optimal parenting, the indirect effects via empathy or caregiving-
responsiveness alone were non-significant for all three narcissism indices. However, the
sequential indirect effects for both non-optimal parenting styles were significant for all
narcissism indices. That is, the low empathy of those high on total and maladaptive narcissism
predicted unresponsive-caregiving, which increased the propensity to engage in authoritarian
and permissive parenting. Conversely, the higher empathy of those high in adaptive narcissism
predicted responsive-caregiving and subsequently lower authoritarian and permissive parenting
tendencies. The direct effects of total and maladaptive narcissism on authoritarian parenting
were positive and significant, although reduced in strength compared to the total effect. Thus,
low empathy and unresponsive-caregiving cannot account completely for narcissists’
propensity to engage in authoritarian parenting.
Testing an Alternative Model
We tested an alternative model to confirm the sequential direction of effects. We
reversed the order of the empathy and responsive-caregiving variables and examined the
indirect effects (Table 3). For optimal parenting, total and maladaptive narcissism negatively
predicted authoritative parenting via caregiving alone. All three narcissism indices predicted
authoritative parenting via empathy alone. The only significant sequential indirect effect (via
caregiving and then empathy) was for total narcissism. For non-optimal parenting, total
narcissism predicted authoritarian and permissive parenting via caregiving alone. These were
the only mediating effects. Thus, reversing the order of mediators revealed only one sequential
indirect effect compared to nine obtained using the more theoretically-expected order in the
main models.
This study provides further support that variation in how people function in the
parenting role can be influenced by their personality, and shines a spotlight on subclinical
grandiose narcissism as a trait that uniquely shapes parenting practices. Specifically, we
showed that narcissism is associated with an increased propensity to use non-optimal parenting
and decreased propensity to use optimal parenting. Furthermore, these effects are driven by
narcissists’ maladaptive traits (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, exhibitionism). Those
individuals scoring higher in adaptive traits (i.e., authority, self-sufficiency) actually display
more optimal and less non-optimal parenting via their higher empathy. Moreover, all narcissism
indices explained variance in authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles above that
explained by the Big Five and attachment, while controlling for sex and socially-desirable
responding. These findings replicate and extend recent evidence (Dentale et al., 2015) using a
more fine-grained analysis of narcissism, using a different parenting measure, and controlling
for important covariates. This research adds to the narcissism literature by pinpointing another
group of people who suffer because of narcissists’ lack of communal orientation; their own
For the first time, we explored the mechanisms underlying the narcissism-parenting
link. We added support to the existing literature that narcissism, particularly maladaptive
narcissism, is negatively associated with empathy, and provided the first direct evidence that
narcissism is associated with unresponsive-caregiving, via empathy. Across all three parenting
styles we showed that the low empathy of those with high total and maladaptive narcissism
predicted unresponsive-caregiving toward their child(ren), which was associated with an
increased use of non-optimal and decreased use of optimal parenting. For those scoring high on
adaptive narcissism, higher empathy predicted caregiving-responsiveness, which predicted
increased use of optimal and decreased use of non-optimal parenting. Given that a substantial
body of evidence points to the detrimental effects of exposure to non-optimal parenting
(Lamborn et al., 1991), understanding why narcissists parent the way that they do is essential in
being able to intervene through parenting skills programs and reduce negative influences on
their child’s development. Our research highlights the need to tackle narcissists’ low empathy
to improve their parenting practices. Such an intervention should focus on promoting the more
adaptive elements of narcissism and reducing the maladaptive elements specifically. In this
vein, it is encouraging that it is possible to prime communal motives, at least temporarily, in
narcissists (Finkel, Campbell, Buffardi, Kumashiro, & Rusbult, 2009) and that affective
empathy can be induced by inviting narcissists to take another’s perspective (Hepper et al.,
2014a). To be successful in encouraging narcissists to use optimal parenting styles in the long-
term, it will be necessary to tailor an intervention to their unique motivational needs, for
example, by making empathy appealing to their agentic motives. Doing so should result in
narcissistic parents (i) being more likely to engage and remain in parenting programs, (ii) being
more empathic towards their children, leading to more responsive-caregiving, and (iii)
improving their overall use of optimal compared to non-optimal parenting strategies.
Whilst empathy and responsive-caregiving in this study fully mediated the relationships
between all narcissism indices and authoritative parenting, they only partially mediated the
relationship between total and maladaptive narcissism and authoritarian parenting. Future
research should examine other potential mediators that could explain this link. One possibility
is narcissists’ need for power, which plays a role in their bullying behaviour (Hart, Hepper, &
Sargeant, 2014). That is, narcissists’ use of non-optimal parenting strategies may be driven by
their high need-for-power (i.e., high agentic motivation) as well as their low empathy (i.e., low
communal motivation).
This research further adds to the growing empirical literature on the consequences of
narcissists’ low empathy. Recent research has shown that their low empathy is a reason for their
criminal activity (Hepper et al, 2014b) and bullying in schools and the workplace (Hart &
Hepper, 2017; Hart et al., 2014). In this study we showed that their low empathy also impacts
their parenting practices. Together, this body of evidence suggests that empathy may represent
a key point for intervention for high-narcissists, especially those high in maladaptive traits, in a
range of contexts. If we can find ways to increase narcissists’ empathy, this has the potential to
ameliorate many of their interpersonal difficulties and enrich their relationships. Future
research should continue to focus on finding ways to do so.
Several limitations of the present study should be noted. First, we used self-report
measures in order to assess potential underlying mechanisms. Interestingly, our results
replicated those of Dentale et al. (2015) whose participants retrospectively recalled their
parents’ behaviours. We acknowledge that self-report methods are prone to biases and tried to
minimise such effects by controlling for socially-desirable responding and using anonymous
participation. However, we were unable to control for the possibility that parental personality
may affect the parents’ assessment of their child’s behaviour or interactive effects of parental
personality and child temperament (Belsky, 1984). For example, narcissistic parents, being
relatively more self-absorbed, may evoke more disobedience from their child as a way of
getting noticed and thereby indirectly lead the parent to report more authoritarian behaviours.
Future studies might combat these issues by using direct observations of parenting methods,
partner- and/or child-reports of parenting, and within-dyad actor-and partner-reports of multiple
parent-child interactions. Second, we assessed caregiving-responsiveness by adapting Kunce
and Shaver’s (1994) Caregiving Questionnaire, originally designed for romantic relationships,
to focus on caregiving towards child(ren). Although this measure showed high reliability, it has
has not been validated with this target and should be interpreted with this caveat in mind.
Finally, the cross-sectional nature of the data limits the extent to which causation can be
inferred. The considerable continuity of personality measures over time (McCrae & Costa,
1994) lends confidence that narcissism, empathy, and caregiving influence parenting. Although
it seems unlikely that parenting behaviours influenced narcissism, empathy, or caregiving-
responsiveness, longitudinal research should verify the causal direction of effects.
The present study makes a novel contribution by demonstrating that narcissism predicts
increased use of non-optimal parenting strategies and decreased use of optimal parenting
strategies above known personality predictors. We begin to provide an understanding of this
relationship showing that narcissists’ low empathy predicts unresponsive-caregiving, which
predicts non-optimal parenting strategies. Assisting parents high in narcissism to adjust their
parenting towards a more responsive style might be an effective way to prevent persistent
emotional and behavioural problems in their offspring. We hope that these findings provide a
starting-point for further research and can inform preventative educational and intervention
parenting programs in the long-term.
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Table 1
Step 2 Regression Analyses Parameters: Impression-management, Sex, Big Five, Attachment,
and Narcissism on Parenting Styles
Effect Authoritative Authoritarian Permissive
β t β t β t
Total Narcissism:
IM .08 1.60 -.13* -2.51 -.10 -1.93
Sex .15** 3.11 -.11* -2.33 -.07 -1.41
Anxiety -.04 -0.64 .09 1.47 .17** 2.99
Avoidance -.20*** -3.65 .13* 2.48 .14* 2.57
Neuroticism .04 0.62 .00 0.00 .06 1.02
Extraversion .02 0.34 -.07 -1.36 -.01 -0.17
Agreeableness .12* 2.02 -.08 -1.44 -.06 -0.98
Conscientiousness .13* 2.29 -.13* -2.43 -.21*** -3.84
Openness .17** 3.35 -.16** -3.18 -.09 -1.71
Narcissism -.14* -2.62 .25*** 4.75 .05 0.66
Adaptive and Maladaptive Narcissism:
IM .07 1.30 -.12* -2.33 -.08 -1.66
Sex .14** 2.96 -.11* -2.21 -.06 -1.29
Anxiety -.03 -0.46 .08 1.38 .16** 2.82
Avoidance -.20*** -3.61 .13* 2.43 .14* 2.53
Neuroticism .05 1.07 -.02 -0.23 .04 0.68
Extraversion .01 0.26 -.07 -1.34 -.01 -0.18
Agreeableness .13* 2.24 -.09 -1.51 -.06 -1.13
Conscientiousness .11* 2.07 -.13* -2.37 -.20*** -3.66
Openness .16** 3.22 -.15** -2.99 -.08 -1.67
.08 1.22 .06 0.89 -.10 -1.47
-.21** -3.04 .20** 2.96 .12 1.88
Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001. IM = Impression-management. Sex: male = 1, female
= 2.
Table 2
Tests of Direct and Indirect Effects of Narcissism on Parenting Styles via Empathy and
Effect Authoritative Authoritarian Permissive
β SE 95% CI β SE 95% CI β SE 95% CI
Total effects:
narcissism →
-.14 .06 -.26, -.03 .24 .06 .12, .36 .03 .05 -.07, .13
narcissism →
.08 .08 -.07, .24 .07 .06 -.05, .20 -.09 .06 -.22, .04
narcissism →
-.21 .08 9-.39, -.04 .18 .07 .04, .32 .06 .06 -.05, .17
narcissism →
-.04 .05 -.14, .06 .21 .06 .10, .32 -.02 .05 -.12, .08
narcissism →
.06 .06 -.06, .17 .07 .06 -.05, .20 -.08 .06 -.20, .04
narcissism →
-.09 .06 -.22, .03 .15 .07 .01, .30 .01 .05 -.09, .11
narcissism →
-.19 .06 -.31, -.07 -.19 .06 -.31, -.07 -.19 .06 -.31, -.07
narcissism →
.12 .07 -.01, .26 .12 .07 -.01, .26 .12 .07 -.01, .26
narcissism →
-.32 .09 -.49, -.14 -.32 .09 -.49, -.14 -.32 .09 -.49, -.14
narcissism →
-.06 .05 -.16, .04 -.06 .05 -.16, .04 -.06 .05 -.16, .04
narcissism →
-.01 .07 -.14, .11 -.01 .07 -.14, .11 -.01 .07 -.14, .11
narcissism →
-.04 .08 -.19, .12 -.04 .08 -.19, .12 -.04 .08 -.19, .12
Empathy →
.20 .06 .07, .33 .20 .06 .07, .33 .20 .06 .07, .33
Empathy →
.18 .06 .07, .29 .07 .06 -.05, .18 -.03 .06 -.15, .08
Caregiving →
.62 .07 .47, .77 -.48 .07 -.62, -.34 -.43 .08 -.59, -.27
Indirect effects:
Total narcissism → Parenting
Via Empathy -.04 .01 -.07, -.01 -.01 .01 -.04, .01 .01 .01 -.01, .03
-.04 .03 -.10, .02 .03 .03 -.02, .08 .03 .02 -.02, .08
Via Empathy
→ Caregiving
-.02 .01 -.05, -.01 .02 .01 .01, .04 .02 .01 .01, .04
R2 = .54
F(12, 340) = 29.38, p < .001
R2 = .43
F(12, 340) = 17.76, p < .001
R2 = .41
F(12, 340) = 16.33, p < .001
Adaptive narcissism → Parenting
Via Empathy .02 .01 .00, .06 .01 .01 -.00, .03 -.00 .01 -.03, .01
-.01 .04 -.09, .07 .01 .03 -.05, .07 .03 .02 -.02, .08
Via Empathy
→ Caregiving
.02 .01 .00, .04 -.01 .01 -.03, -.00 -.01 .01 -.03, -.00
R2 = .54
F(13, 339) = 27.14, p < .001
R2 = .43
F(13, 339) = 16.58, p < .001
R2 = .30
F(13, 339) = 13.06, p < .001
Maladaptive narcissism → Parenting
Via Empathy -.06 .02 -.11, -.02 -.02 .02 -.06, .01 .01 .02 -.03, .05
-.02 .05 -.12, .06 .02 .04 -.05, .10 .02 .03 -.04, .08
Via Empathy
→ Caregiving
-.04 .01 -.08, -.02 .03 .01 .01, .06 .03 .01 .01, .05
R2 = .54
F(13, 339) = 27.14, p < .001
R2 = .43
F(13, 339) = 16.58, p < .001
R2 = .41
F(13, 399) = 16.24, p < .001
Note. Analyses conducted using PROCESS model 6 (10,000 bootstrap samples; Hayes, 2013)
on n = 353 due to missing data. All standard errors for continuous outcome models are based
on the HC3 estimator. Reported results are controlling for Impression-management, Sex, Big
Five, and Attachment. Confidence intervals are bias-corrected. Significant direct and indirect
effects are evidenced by confidence intervals that do not include zero and are presented in bold
Table 3
Tests of Indirect Effects of Narcissism on Parenting Styles via Caregiving and Empathy
Effect Authoritative Authoritarian Permissive
β SE 95% CI β SE 95% CI β SE 95% CI
Indirect effects:
Total narcissism → Parenting
-.10 .04 -.17, -.03 .05 .03 .00, .10 .05 .03 .01, .11
Via Empathy -.03 .01 -.07, -.00 -.01 .01 -.04, .00 .01 .01 -.00, .01
Caregiving →
-.00 .00 -.01, -.00 .00 .00 -.01, .00 .00 .00 .01, .04
Adaptive narcissism → Parenting
.01 .04 -.07, .08 -.00 .03 -.06, .05 -.00 .03 -.06, .05
Via Empathy .02 .01 .00, .06 .01 .01 -.00, .03 -.00 .01 -.03, .01
Caregiving →
.00 .00 -.00, .01 .00 .00 -.00, .00 .00 .00 -.00, .00
Maladaptive narcissism → Parenting
-.06 .05 -.22, -.02 .05 .04 -.02, .14 .04 .03 -.02, .12
Via Empathy -.04 .02 -.11, -.02 -.02 .02 -.06, .01 .01 .02 -.03, .05
Caregiving →
-.00 .00 -.01, .00 -.00 .00 -.01, .00 .00 .00 -.00, .01
Note. Analyses conducted using PROCESS model 6 (10,000 bootstrap samples; Hayes, 2013)
on n = 353 due to missing data. All standard errors for continuous outcome models are based
on the HC3 estimator. Reported results are controlling for Impression-management, Sex, Big
Five, and Attachment. Confidence intervals are bias-corrected. Significant direct and indirect
effects are evidenced by confidence intervals that do not include zero and are presented in bold
Figure 1. Theoretical model of relationship between narcissism and parenting.
... The Dark Triad is a cluster of three interrelated, yet distinct, personality domains: subclinical narcissism, Machiavellianism (e.g., manipulation, detachment), and subclinical psychopathy (e.g., lack of empathy, antisociality; Paulhus & Williams, 2002). In parenting research, parental narcissism is positively associated with both greater parental warmth via grandiose narcissism (Dottan & Cohen, 2014), measured as the total Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Terry, 1988) score, and greater authoritarian (i.e., highly controlling) parenting via maladaptive narcissism (the mean score of the entitlement, exploitativeness, and exhibitionism NPI facets; Hart et al., 2017). Parental control may consist of both adaptive and maladaptive aspects of parenting, depending on the degree of regulation, manipulation, and management implicated in the parent-offspring relationship. ...
... For mothers, antagonism was negatively associated with warmth. Previous work indicates maladaptive narcissism indirectly predicted less authoritative parenting through lack of empathy, whereas adaptive narcissism (e.g., authority, self-sufficiency) was associated with more adaptive parenting via higher empathy (Hart et al., 2017). Results of the current study support prior work such that narcissistic traits were associated with the warmth (i.e., empathic) dimension of parenting. ...
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The Tri-Directional Framework highlights parental personality-context interactions in affecting offspring development. We examined: (1) context, parental personality, and their interactions as predictors of parenting (parents only); and (2) context, parental personality, parenting, and personality-parenting interactions as predictors of adolescent behavioral outcomes (parentadolescent dyads). Parents (N=283) completed assessments of SES, adverse childhood experiences, personality (Big Five, Dark Triad), and parenting. Adolescents (N=257) completed an assessment of behavior. Parent Dark Triad domains explained more variance in parental warmth and hostility than the Big Five. Parental personality models explained equivalent variance in adolescent behavior, and evinced interactions with contextual factors and parenting. Results showcase the importance of assessing a wider spectrum of parental personality in affecting offspring development, and examining environmental influences.
... Moreover, grandiose narcissists were likely to remember permissive parenting whereas vulnerable narcissists were reported more authoritarian parenting (Ewing, 2020). Similarly, another study showed that narcissism was negatively associated with optimal parenting (i.e., authoritative parenting) (Hart et al., 2017).All together, evidence has suggested that the development of narcissism is related to specific parenting practices. However, many studies focusing on narcissism and parenting include different components of parenting. ...
... This relationship may be bidirectional. Hart et al. (2017) showed that reverse association between authoritative parenting style and narcissism. Accordingly, individuals who were high on adaptive narcissism, but not maladaptive narcissism showed higher empathy, and increased empathy predicted higher caregiving-responsiveness and authoritative parenting. ...
The concept ‘parenting styles’ has been widely examined to understand the etiology of narcissism for decades. This study aimed to systematically review the empirical research literature regarding the association between perceived parenting styles and narcissism. In this study, Ebscohost, Wiley Online Library, Taylor&Francis, Springer Link, PubMed, PsycNet, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar databases were searched using identified keywords. An extensive database search resulted in 75 identified publications. Of these, 60 were scrutinized, and in the end, ten studies were included in the review for data synthesis. To reach a common conceptualization on the parenting styles, the results were evaluated based on Baumrind’s typology. As a result of this systematic review, we can conclude that there is a relationship between narcissism and parenting styles. In particular, perceived permissive parenting was positively correlated with narcissism. However, the relationship between narcissism and other parenting styles is more complex. Therefore, more high-quality empirical studies are needed to investigate the relationship between parenting and narcissism.
... Inflated sense of self is defined as trying to influence others excessively, an insatiable need for approval and a desire to be in the center of others' attention (17). As in helicopter parenting, this personality structure is likely to occur when parents praise their children too much, behave excessively tolerantly and try to create the most sheltered environment (18). It is known that grandiose and fragile narcissistic personality structures are associated with anxiety, depression and psychological violence. ...
... There is evidence in the literature that individuals who perceive their families as overprotective in childhood are individuals who seek approval from others and desire attention in adulthood (7). Similarly, it is known that individuals with high inflated sense of self need to try to influence others and get approval (18). Given this situation, it is not surprising that it is associated with helicopter parenting, defined as over-controlling parenting in order to protect children from dangers and avoid harm. ...
Introduction: Helicopter parenting is characterised as a parenting style that take too much care and intervention to their children, take decisions instead of them, solve the problems they face and try to be overprotective. There is a growing interest in the negative aspects of helicopter parenting. This type of parenting attitude is thought to affect psychological problems. The aim of this study is to investigate the mediating effect of impulsivity and inflated self-sense of self in the relationship between helicopter parenting and psychological symptoms. Method: The sample of the study consists of 337 university students. Perceived helicopter parenting was evaluated by Perceived Helicopter Parenting Attitude Scale, psychological symptoms by Brief Symptom Inventory, impulsivity levels by Barratt Impulsivity Scale, and inflated sense of self levels by using the Inflated Sense of Self Scale. Results: As the helicopter parenting level perceived from the mother increased, psychological symptoms, impulsivity and inflated sense of self increased. There was no relationship between helicopter parenting perceived from the father and other variables. In the relationship between mother-perceived helicopter parenting and psychological symptoms, the inflated self-sense of self and impulsivity have a mediating effect; it was also found that impulsivity has a partial mediating effect on the relationship between inflated sense of self and psychological symptoms. In addition, inflated self-sense of self has a full mediating effect in the relationship between impulsivity and mother-perceived helicopter parenting. Conclusion: The results of the study show that there is a difference between perceived helicopter parenting from mother and father. Perceived helicopter parenting is associated with an increase in psychological symptoms. In addition, in this relationship, helicopter parenting can affect psychological symptoms by causing an increase in impulsivity and inflated sense of self.
... To understand how age differences in narcissism emerge, we draw upon several theoretical postulations. For instance, narcissism has been implicated in the evolutionary psychology literature, specifically how its variation is associated with functioning in long-term romantic relationships, optimal parenting practices, or productive work behavior (e.g., Hart et al., 2017;Wurst et al., 2017). Further, narcissism is linked to shortterm mating strategies, social status, and dominant behaviors (e.g., Cheng et al., 2010;Grapsas et al., 2020;Holtzman & Donnellan, 2015). ...
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Age and gender differences in narcissism have been studied often. However, considering the rich history of narcissism research accompanied by its diverging conceptualizations, little is known about age and gender differences across various narcissism measures. The present study investigated age and gender differences and their interactions across eight widely used narcissism instruments (i.e., Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, Dirty Dozen, Psychological Entitlement Scale, DSM-IV NPD, Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Questionnaire-Short Form, Single Item Narcissism Scale, and brief version of the Pathological Narcissism Inventory). The findings of Study 1 (N = 5,736) revealed heterogeneity in how strongly the measures correlated. Some instruments loaded clearly on one of three factors proposed by previous research (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, antagonism), while others crossloaded across factors and in distinct ways. Cross-sectional analyses using each measure and meta-analytic results across all measures (Study 2) with a total sample of 270,029 participants suggest consistent linear age effects (random effects meta-analytic effect of r = -.104), with narcissism being highest in young adulthood. Consistent gender differences also emerged (random effects meta-analytic effect was -.079), such that men scored higher in narcissism than women. Quadratic age effects and age x gender effects were generally very small and inconsistent. We conclude that despite the various conceptualizations of narcissism, age and gender differences are generalizable across the eight measures used in the present study. However, their size varied based on the instrument used. We discuss the sources of this heterogeneity and the potential mechanisms for age and gender differences.
... Efekty autorytarnego stylu obserwowane u dzieci to najczęściej niskie poczucie własnej wartości, wycofanie, nieufność, nieposłuszeństwo, brak spontaniczności, obniżony poziom ciekawości świata oraz motywacji do zdobywania osiągnięć. Badania wskazują również, że dzieci wychowujące się w autorytarnych domach częściej popadają w uzależnienia od substancji psychoaktywnych (Azizi, Besharat, 2011;Baumrind, 1991;Furnham, Cheng, 2000;Hart, Bush-Evans, Hepper, Hickman, 2017;Matejevic i in., 2014;Ritchie, Buchanan, 2011;Wolfradt, Hempel, Miles, 2003;Yavuz-Muren, Selcuk, 2018). ...
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The aim of the research was to determine the replacement styles of upbringing used by professional foster parents, with the use of the Questionnaire for the Study of Upbring�ing Style in the Family created by Maria Ryś (2001). The study covered 76 professional foster families conducting family emergency services in the Śląskie and Małopolskie voivodships.
... In light of the speculations pertaining to gendered parenting in the development of narcissism, future research could also conduct further analysis to examine whether current results are replicated across different family structures (single parent, samesex parent families) and gender-specific processes. Moreover, research undertaken with parents demonstrates associations between grandiose narcissism and an increased propensity towards non-optimal parenting styles (authoritarian and permissive), with low empathy predicting unresponsive-caregiving towards a child (Hart, Bush-Evans, Hepper, & Hickman, 2017). Given the detrimental ramifications dysfunctional parenting could have on the development of the child (see section 5.1.3 ...
Despite its longevity as a personality construct, theoretical understandings of gender differences in narcissistic presentation are underdeveloped given the overemphasis of grandiose features indicative of the male gender. The existing literature is also fragmented across empirical and clinical subfields, with inconsistent conceptualisations regarding an assumed heterogeneous construct encompassing grandiose and vulnerable features. In this context, this thesis aims to enhance theoretical knowledge regarding gender differences in grandiose and vulnerable narcissism through undertaking three distinct but interrelated studies. The focus was specifically on parenting styles in the development of narcissism and variances in self-esteem regulation within Intimate Partner Violence, and the gender bias of narcissistic pathology as captured in the psychiatric nomenclature. Results demonstrate that hypothetical patients with vulnerable narcissism symptomatology are being (mis)diagnosed as having other ‘vulnerable disorders’, findings which may contribute to the observed gender bias in the psychiatric nomenclature (Study 1). Converging evidence demonstrates gender differences linking females to vulnerable features of narcissism (Study 2 and Study 3). Retrospective accounts of childrearing experiences generated findings which associated different parenting styles with manifestations of narcissism and partner violence outcomes in each gender, further elucidating the underling construct of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism (Study 2). The complexity of narcissism is revealed, as gender roles were perceived to shape self-regulatory strategies in females to obtain their self-worth (Study 3). It is concluded that gender socialisation processes play an important role in producing these gender differences, impacting on the diagnostic assessment, development, and manifestation of narcissism. It is recommended that a significant theoretical re-synthesis is required to capture gender issues in narcissism at the level of conceptualisation and clinical treatment, and integrate the disjointed subfields. Limitations of the thesis are identified and suggestions for future research made.
This study drew on the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) and narrative therapy literature to explore the experiences of adult children of narcissists (ACON) to understand how they have made sense of their own experiences and protected themselves from adversity. Data from semi-structured interviews with six individuals who identified one of their parents as a narcissist were analyzed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis. The experiences of these participants were captured by four themes: “It’s a brutal way to be raised,” “A way forward: it was them not me,” “I see the tentacles of how deep and far and wide it goes,” and “The lost ideal.” “Journey of healing" was identified as the overarching theme that encapsulated the essence of the participants’ experiences. This study is the first phenomenological account of this hitherto under researched cohort. It has also extended the literature on the PTMF by demonstrating its utility in formulating ACON’s experiences of psychological distress. Findings illustrate how personal narratives can be used to facilitate individual recovery. These findings can potentially aid clinicians to better understand and support ACON in clinical settings. Supplemental data for this article is available online at
The first section of this thesis is a systematic literature review of interventions to increase empathy in Healthcare Professionals. A total of 17 studies were included. Definitions of empathy, measurement used, sample characteristics, and intervention characteristics were mixed, indicating a range of approaches aiming to increase empathy were considered in the review. Of those interventions examined in the review, none of them accounted for individual differences, instead adopting a ‘one glove fits all’ approach. This may explain why only seven of the reported studies reported significant improvements in empathy. Limitations of the review and areas for future research are identified and discussed. The second section consists of an empirical research paper investigating the relationship between narcissism and empathy in Healthcare Professionals. Scant research has explored narcissism levels in Healthcare populations. Narcissists lack empathy but can be empathic. Empathy is important for fostering relationships between healthcare professionals and patients. Thus, we designed a study to test whether it is possible to make empathy appealing to a narcissist – by appealing to their agentic motivations. In total, 192 Healthcare Professionals participated in the study. Amongst this population, narcissism predicted lower levels of empathy towards the hypothetical patient. However, we were not successful at making empathy appealing to healthcare professionals scoring higher in narcissism. Implications for theory, clinical practice, and future research is discussed. <br/
Previous research on the link between parenthood and subjective well-being has observed a positive, a negative, or no relation between the two depending upon a variety of factors including, but not limited to, parent age, child age, and parent gender. The current study assessed an individual difference – parent narcissism – as an additional moderator of this link. The project assessed both non-pathological and pathological trait narcissism and differentiated between pathological grandiosity and vulnerability as it explored the extent to which each form of narcissism moderated the association between parenthood and well-being. Amazon Mturk workers completed measures of demographic characteristics, subjective well-being, and narcissism online. Overall, parenthood was positively associated with subjective well-being, but this effect was moderated such that the positive association between parenting and subjective well-being was observed only for those low in non-pathological narcissism and pathological grandiosity. Pathological vulnerability was negatively associated with subjective well-being but did not moderate the parenthood-subjective well-being link. The findings highlight the role of narcissistic grandiosity in influencing when and for whom parenthood might lead to more subjective well-being.
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Self-report studies often call for assessment of socially desirable responding. Many researchers use the Marlowe–Crowne Scale for its brief versions; however, this scale is outdated, and contemporary models of social desirability emphasize its multi-dimensional nature. The 40-item Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) incorporates Self-Deceptive Enhancement (honest but overly positive responding) and Impression Management (bias toward pleasing others). However, its length limits its practicality. This article introduces the BIDR-16. In four studies, we shorten the BIDR from 40 items to 16 items, while retaining its two-factor structure, reliability, and validity. This short form will be invaluable to researchers wanting to assess social desirability when time is limited. Full-text available at
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The hypothesis that parental narcissism is related to depression and anxiety of the young adult children and that this relationship is mediated by the parental rearing style as reported by the offspring was investigated. Subjects were 409 young adults (264 females), aged 22.85 (SD = 2.00) and their parents. Parental narcissism was measured with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI); the rearing style, as remembered by the offspring, was measured with the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) that includes Parkers's scales of care and overprotection and Gilbert's scales of put-down/shaming andfavouritism; depression and anxiety were assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) respectively. Two total mediation models (one for fathers and one for mothers), including parental NPI as a predictor, PBI scales as mediators and children's scores on BDI and STAI as criteria, showed adequate goodness of fit indices. The sums of indirect effects of both paternal and maternal narcissism on children's depression and anxiety, via all rearing style dimensions, were significant. These results suggest that parental narcissism is related to children's depression and anxiety and that this relationships is mediated by the rearing style as recalled by the offspring.
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Significance Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently. Unfortunately, little is known about the origins of narcissism. Such knowledge is important for designing interventions to curtail narcissistic development. We demonstrate that narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others. In contrast, high self-esteem in children is cultivated by parental warmth: parents expressing affection and appreciation toward their child. These findings show that narcissism is partly rooted in early socialization experiences, and suggest that parent-training interventions can help curtail narcissistic development and reduce its costs for society.
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The present study examined the relation between adolescent and parent reports of parenting practices and adolescent grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Participants were 300 adolescents (257 males, 43 females) who were enrolled in a short-term residential program. Findings linked grandiose narcissism to adolescent reports of positive parenting practices and poor monitoring and supervision. Vulnerable narcissism was significantly positively correlated with inconsistent discipline and poor monitoring and supervision with inconsistent discipline predicting unique variance in adolescent vulnerable narcissism. The hypothesized interaction between positive reinforcement and poor monitoring and supervision in predicting grandiose narcissism was not supported. The implications of these findings as well as limitations and directions for further research on parenting and adolescent narcissism are discussed.
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Empathy plays a critical role in fostering and maintaining social relations. Narcissists lack empathy, and this may account for their interpersonal failures. But why do narcissists lack empathy? Are they incapable, or is change possible? Three studies addressed this question. Study 1 showed that the link between narcissism and low empathy generalizes to a specific target person presented in a vignette. The effect was driven by maladaptive narcissistic components (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, exhibitionism). Study 2 examined the effect of perspective-taking (vs. control) instructions on self-reported responses to a video. Study 3 examined the effect of the same manipulation on autonomic arousal (heart rate) during an audio-recording. Perspective-taking ameliorated negative links between maladaptive narcissism and both self-reported empathy and heart rate. That is, narcissists can be moved by another’s suffering, if they take that person’s perspective. The findings demonstrate that narcissists’ low empathy does not reflect inability, implying potential for intervention.
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Understanding the individual factors that predispose persons to criminal behaviour is vital to reducing offending and rehabilitating those who have been sentenced to prison. This study examined the roles of narcissism (at both clinical and subclinical trait levels) and empathy, by comparing levels in young adult males currently serving a prison sentence to those with no history of criminal convictions. Prison participants had significantly higher levels of narcissism—in particular entitlement—than control participants, and this link was sequentially mediated by lower perspective-taking and subsequently lack of empathic concern. Trait narcissism showed stronger effects than Narcissistic Personality Disorder symptoms. Narcissistic young men’s feelings of entitlement and ensuing lack of empathy for others may account for their greater likelihood of criminal behaviour.
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Two studies examined narcissism and commitment in ongoing romantic relationships. In Study 1, narcissism was found to be negatively related to commitment. Mediational analyses further revealed that this was primarily a result of narcissists’ perception of alternatives to their current relationship. Study 2 replicated these findings with an additional measure of alternatives. Again, narcissists reported less commitment to their ongoing romantic relationship. This link was mediated by both perception of alternatives and attention to alternative dating partners. The utility of an interdependence approach to understanding the role of personality in romantic relationships is discussed.
For decades, attachment scholars have been investigating how parents' adult attachment orientations relate to the ways in which they parent. Traditionally, this research has been conducted by developmental and clinical psychologists who typically employ the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) to measure adult attachment. However, dating back to the mid-1990s, social and personality psychologists have been investigating how self-reported adult attachment styles relate to various facets of parenting. The literature on self-reported attachment and parenting has received less attention than AAI research on the same topic and, to date, there is no comprehensive review of this literature. In this article, we review more than 60 studies of the links between self-reported attachment styles and parenting, integrate the findings to reach general conclusions, discuss unresolved questions, and suggest future directions. Finally, we discuss the potential benefits to the study of parenting of collaborations among researchers from the developmental and social attachment research traditions.