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Please cite this paper as: Dinić, B. M., Sokolovska, V., & Tomašević, A. (2021). The narcissism
network and centrality of narcissism features. Current Psychology. Online First.
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6The narcissism network and centrality of narcissism features
7Bojana M. Dinić
9Accepted: 3 December 2020
10 #Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020
12 The aim of this research was to explore the underlying structural organization and centrality of narcissism features by using
13 network analysis. The research was conducted on a sample from the general population using subscales of four narcissism
14 instruments (Narcissism Personality Inventory, Grandiose Narcissism Scale, Pathological Narcissism Inventory, Five-Factor
15 Narcissism Inventory Short Form). The results revealed detection of four communities, one of which was interpreted as vulner-
16 able narcissism, while the remaining three were interpreted as aspects of grandiose narcissism (grandiose exhibitionism, narcis-
17 sistic antagonism, and authority). The results suggested that although features of grandiose narcissism (grandiose exhibitionism
18 and leadership/authority) show consistent higher strength centrality across networks, entitlement/exploitativeness, followed by
19 grandiose fantasy, has a central role in bringing together maladaptive grandiose and vulnerable aspects of narcissism. In addition,
20 leadership/authority brings together various aspects of grandiose narcissism. The results support the role of entitlement features as
21 the core of narcissism.
22 Keywords Grandiose narcissism .Vulnerable narcissism .Narcissistic antagonism .Entitlement/exploitativeness .Leadership/
23 authority .Grandiose fantasies .Network analysis
26 Narcissism is a complex trait in which two main dimensions
27 could be distinguished –grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.
28 Grandiose narcissism refers to inflated self-image, sense of
29 superiority, and exhibitionism, which are associated with ap-
30 proach motivation and self-enhancement strategies (e.g.,
31 Krizan & Herlache, 2018; Miller, Lynam, Hyatt, &
32 Campbell, 2017). On the other hand, interest in vulnerable
33 narcissism comes from clinical research in which this form
34 of narcissism refers to experience of low self-esteem, negative
35 emotions, and hypersentivity to rejection and criticism, which
36 are associated with avoidance of interpersonal relationships
37and self-protective strategies (e.g., Krizan & Herlache, 2018;
38Miller et al., 2017).
39However, the complexity of narcissism is not limited to
40detection of its main dimensions, as each of these dimen-
41sions also has subdimensions which vary across different
42measurements and approaches. For example, the most com-
43monly used measure of narcissism –Narcissistic
44Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Terry, 1988)assesses
45only grandiose narcissism and originally it is supposed to
46capture seven subscales: authority, self-sufficiency, superi-
47ority, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, vanity, and entitle-
48ment. Although this measure provided good content and
49criterion validity (e.g., Miller, Lynam, & Campbell, 2016;
50Miller, Price, & Campbell, 2012b), the results regarding
51both the number of the subscales and its structure were in-
52consistent (for a review of proposed models, see Dinić&
53Vujić,2019a) while reliabilities of some subscales were
54reported to be low (e.g., Miller, Nicols, Clark, Daniels, &
55Grant, 2018). In order to overcome the shortcomings of
56NPI, Foster, McCain, Hibberts, Brunell, and Johnson
57(2015) developed a new measure of grandiose narcissism
58–Grandiose Narcissism Inventory (GNI), based on the con-
59tent of the original NPI structure. GNI subscales showed
60good reliabilities and solely the relations with paired mea-
61sures, while NPI subscales showed more diverse relations
62with paired measures (Foster et al., 2015).
*Bojana M. Dinić
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of
Novi Sad, Dr Zorana Đinđića 2, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi
Sad, Dr Zorana Đinđića 2, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
JrnlID 12144_ArtID 1250_Proof# 1 - 05/12/2020
63 On the other hand, measurement of vulnerable narcissism
64 has been neglected for a long time. Although there are scales
65 which assess vulnerable narcissism (e.g., Hypersensitive
66 Narcissism Scale; Hendin & Cheek, 1997), they treat vulner-
67 able narcissism rather as a unidimensional construct.
68 Furthermore, there are controversies regarding whether NPI
69 measures normal or pathological narcissism (e.g., Rosenthal
70 &Hooley,2010; Pincus & Lukowitsky, 2010; Miller, Gentile,
71 & Campbell, 2012a). In order to develop a pathological mea-
72 sure of both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, Pincus et al.
73 (2009) constructed Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI).
74 In the final structure of PNI, grandiose narcissism captures
75 exploitativeness, grandiose fantasy, and sacrificing self-en-
76 hancement, while vulnerable narcissism captures contingent
77 self-esteem, hiding the self, devaluating, and entitlement rage
78 (Wright, Lukowitsky, Pincus, & Conroy, 2010). In addition,
79 Glover, Miller, Lynam, Crego, & Widiger (2012) developed
80 the Five-Factor Narcissism Inventory which also measures
81 both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Grandiose narcis-
82 sism captures 11 subscales, including exhibitionism, authori-
83 tativeness, grandiose fantasies, manipulativeness,
84 exploaitativess, entitlement, while vulnerable narcissism cap-
85 tures four subscales –reactive anger, shame, need for admira-
86 tion, and cynicism/distrust.
87 There are many proposals for the main features or “core”of
88 both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Brown, Budzek,
89 and Tamborski (2009) proposed two independent features –
90 grandiosity and entitlement, while Wright and Edershile
91 (2018) proposed only entitlement. These proposals are in line
92 with Narcissism Spectrum Model (NSM; Krizan & Herlache,
93 2018), in which entitled self-importance is the core feature and
94 narcissism expression can vary across grandiose and vulnera-
95 ble forms. Entitlement refers to the belief that one deserves
96 special treatment, while in NSM it also includes lack of em-
97 pathy and manipulation. The remaining two factors of NSM
98 are grandiosity/exhibitionism, which includes authoritative-
99 ness and exhibitionism,and vulnerability, which includes con-
100 tingent self-esteem and entitlement rage. Similarly, Miller
101 et al. (2017) propose a trifurcated model in which antagonism
102 serves as the narcissism core, but other characteristics modu-
103 late whether narcissism would be expressed as grandiose or
104 vulnerable. Thus, grandiose narcissism is modulated by
105 agentic aspect of extraversion and vulnerable narcissism by
106 negative affect of neuroticism.
107 The emerging consensus is that narcissism is best repre-
108 sented by a triad, but the core feature is somewhat different
109 across the approaches, although entitlement could be seen as a
110 part of a broader construct of antagonism. In factor analysis of
111 items of several narcissism measures, the core factor of antag-
112 onism actually includes entitlement (Crowe, Lynam,
113 Campbell, & Miller, 2019). However, there is disagreement
114 about centrality of narcissism features between the proposed
115 models and experts’views. Namely, a study on experts’views
116showed that they generally believe that grandiose features of
117narcissism are more central (e.g., grandiose presentation of
118self-concept, entitlement, exhibitionism, grandiose fantasies)
119than vulnerable features (e.g., Ackerman, Hands, Donnellan,
120Hopwood, & Witt, 2017).
121Previous studies used factor analytic approach in order to
122determine the central factor of narcissism (e.g., Krizan &
123Herlache, 2018: Crowe et al., 2019). The aim of this research
124is to explore the centrality of narcissism features by using a
125different approach, i.e., network analysis, which offers direct
126measurement of centrality of each variable based on interrela-
127tions between all other variables. Moreover, structural organi-
128zation of narcissism features was detected by community anal-
129ysis. Unlike latent structure models, community structure is
130detected from all indirect and direct relationships between the
131variables in question, focusing on the unique variance be-
132tween the variables and not on common shared variance
133(e.g., Constantini et al., 2015). Thus, there is no a priori as-
134sumption about the connection between the nodes and their
135community membership. Besides the community structure it-
136self, this analysis offers a better insight into the centrality of
137narcissism features, i.e., features which bring together the de-
138tected communities. Thus, the features that bring together the
139detected communities could serve as the core features of the
140network (bridge-centrality) and features that are highly con-
141nected with other nodes are the core features of the commu-
142nities themselves (strength centrality). Although there are sev-
143eral proposals of the main narcissism component (e.g., Krizan
144& Herlache, 2018; Miller et al., 2017), network analysis could
145be used to directly test the centrality of narcissism features
146considering the complexity of this trait. Previous network
147analysis research focused on only one measure of narcissism.
148For example, Briganti and Linkowski (2019) analyzed the
149network of NPI items and showed that the items referring to
150entitlement, authority, and superiority had the highest
151centrality. In addition, a study by Di Pierro, Constantini,
152Benzi, Madeddu, and Preti (2019) suggested that subscales
153of grandiose fantasies, entitlement rage, and contingent self-
154esteem had the central role in PNI. In the current study, we
155included various measures of narcissism which cover the main
156aspects of narcissism, in order to provide a better insight into
157central features of this multidimensional trait.
159Participants and Procedure
160The sample included 423 participants (50.1% females, 3 par-
161ticipants did not report sex) from the general population of
162Serbia, aged between 18 and 85 (M= 31.59, SD = 14.24).
163The majority of the sample was highly educated (40% under-
164graduate students and 25.5% higher school or faculty
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165 graduates). Data were collected by trained undergraduate stu-
166 dents, each of whom was required to collect data from 6 par-
167 ticipants, in accordance with the given sex (3 males and 3
168 females) and age quotas (from 18 to 30 and over 30 years of
169 age). Regardless of the given quotas, it was a convenience
170 sample, thus the examiners recruited participants from their
171 community. A part of the data was also used in “Citation
172 Blinded”. The research was approved by the Institutional
173 Review Board.
175 Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI: Raskin & Terry,
176 1988, for Serbian adaptation see Dinić&Vujić,2019a)as-
177 sesses grandiose narcissism and it consists of 40 items.
178 However, in this research we applied the most commonly
179 used scoring according to Ackerman et al. (2011)tobeable
180 to compare the results with previous studies. This scoring
181 includes 26 items measuring three subscales: leadership/au-
182 thority, grandiose exhibitionism, and entitlement/
183 exploitativeness. The participants rated each statement on a
184 6-point scale, ranging from 0 = not at all like me to 5 = very
185 much like me. Descriptives and reliabilities for all used mea-
186 sures are presented in Table 1.
187 Grandiose Narcissism Scale (GNS; Foster et al., 2014) con-
188 tains 35 items which measure seven subscales of grandiose
189 narcissism: authority, self-sufficiency, superiority, vanity,
190exhibitionism, entitlement, and exploitativeness. The partici-
191pants rated each statement on a 6-point scale, ranging from
1921= strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. Since this is the
193first use of Serbian adaptation of GNS, we calculated model fit
194for proposed 7-factor model and it was excellent
(539) = 2064.88, p< .001, CFI
= .051, SRMR = .061). The pa-
197rameters were high, ranging from .51 to .86, while the corre-
198lations among the factors were in the range from .22 (between
199self-sufficiency and exhibitionism) to .81 (between exhibi-
200tionism and entitlement).
201Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI: Pincus et al.,
203cludes 52 items and measures seven subscales which assess
204pathological grandiose narcissism (exploitativeness, grandi-
205ose fantasy, and self-sacrificing self-enhancement) and vul-
206nerable narcissism (contingent self-esteem, hiding the self,
207devaluing, and entitlement rage). The participants rated each
208statement on a 6-point scale, ranging from 0 = not at all like
209me to 5 = very much like me.
210Five-Factor Narcissism Inventory Short Form (FFNI-SF;
211Sherman et al., 2015) contains 60 items and measures 15
212subscales that assess grandiose narcissism (indifference, exhi-
213bitionism, authoritativeness, grandiose fantasies, manipula-
214tiveness, exploaitativess, entitlement, lack of empathy, arro-
215gance, acclaim seeking, and thrill seeking) and vulnerable
216narcissism (reactive anger, shame, need for admiration, and
t1:1Table 1 Descriptives and reliability of narcissism subscales
t1:3Narcissism Personality Inventory Five Factor Narcissism Inventory
t1:4leadership/authority 24.63(12.62) .91 indifference 11.71(3.80) .73
t1:5grandiose exhibitionism 19.35(11.03) .86 exhibitionism 12.57(3.83) .75
t1:6entitlement/exploitativeness 8.34(4.64) .74 authoritativeness 11.93(3.82) .78
t1:7Grandiose Narcissism Scale grandiose fantasies 10.85(4.11) .75
t1:8authority 16.14(6.21) .89 manipulativeness 9.78(3.81) .83
t1:9self-sufficiency 21.02(5.24) .79 exploitativeness 7.15(3.50) .84
t1:10 superiority 13.89(5.41) .83 entitlement 9.21(3.56) .73
t1:11 vanity 20.00(5.97) .89 lack of empathy 7.98(3.34) .75
t1:12 exhibitionism 13.88(5.81) .88 arrogance 8.41(3.15) .58
t1:13 entitlement 14.10(4.99) .80 acclaim seeking 12.83(3.72) .79
t1:14 exploitativeness 10.24(5.08) .86 thrill seeking 9.69(3.81) .74
t1:15 Pathological Narcissism Inventory reactive anger 11.70(3.44) .64
t1:16 exploitativeness 10.89(5.50) .77 shame 12.55(3.75) .74
t1:17 grandiose fantasy 15.86(8.7) .87 need for admiration 10.50(3.23) .55
t1:18 self-sacrificing self-enhancement 15.60(6.05) .72 cynicism/distrust 11.72(3.23) .56
t1:19 contingent self-esteem 20.92(12.78) .90
t1:20 hiding the self 17.03(6.86) .72
t1:21 devaluing 12.47(7.20) .80
t1:22 entitlement rage 17.08(8.52) .83
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217 cynicism/distrust). The participants rated each statement on a
218 5-point scale, ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strong-
219 ly agree. Since this is the first use of Serbian adaptation of
220 FFNI, we calculated model fit for proposed 15-factor model
221 and it was good (WLSMχ
(1605) = 4811.96, p< .001,
= .931, TLI
= .923, RMSEA
223 SRMR = .066). The parameters were in the range from .37
224 to .83, except for three reverse coded items which had load-
225 ings < .30 (items 19, 27, and 38). The correlations among the
226 factors were in the range from −.31 (between indifference and
227 need for admiration) to .86 (between acclaim seeking and
228 grandiose fantasies).
229 Data Analysis
230 Network analysis was conducted on 32 subscales from 4 used
231 narcissism instruments. Statistical networks have two impor-
232 tant elements: (1) nodes, which represent observed variables
233 (e.g., subscales of narcissism), and (2) edges connecting the
234 nodes and representing some form of statistical relationship
235 which is estimated from data. In this study, the zero-order and
236 the partial correlations (with adaptive LASSO regularization)
237 were used as the method of edge estimation. Since all nodes
238 are from the same domain of narcissism, we included the
239 network based on zero-order correlations regarding some con-
240 cerns that residualization could affect the relations between
241 correlated variables (e.g., Vize, Collison, Miller, & Lynam,
242 2020). In contrast, the network based on regularized partial
243 correlations is sparser and more parsimonious (e.g., Epskamp
244 &Fried,2018). This network is recommended, for example,
245 in investigating organization of personality subtraits
246 (Constantini et al., 2015) and it was also used in previous
247 research investigating centrality of narcissism features
248 (Briganti & Linkowski, 2019; Di Pierro et al., 2019).
249 The structural organization of narcissism subscales was
250 explored by analyzing clustering of the nodes (local cluster-
251 ing) and the community structure of the network (global clus-
252 tering). Localized clustering of the nodes occurs when a
253 node’s neighbors tend to be directly connected to each other.
255 cohesive element in a well-connected group of neighboring
256 nodes. Degree of clustering is measured using a coefficient
257 proposed by Zhang and Horvath (2005). On the other hand,
258 communities are subsets of an entire set of network nodes
259 within which node-node edges are dense, but between which
260 the overall connectivity is weak (e.g., Newman, 2006).
261 Although different community detection methods and algo-
262 rithms have been proposed, the most prevalent one is the
263 “walktrap”algorithm (e.g., Pons & Latapy, 2006).
264 Community detection was performed in R using “igraph”
265 package (Csárdi & Nepusz, 2006) and the algorithm is repeat-
266 ed 5000 times under different seed values. Communities were
267 estimated on the entire network without grouping of variables
268from the same scale. Modularity was used as a measure of
269how a community structure fits to the data of both networks.
270It indicates the probability that all nodes have the majority of
271their edges within their respective community. If a detected
272structure has low modularity, then it does not represent the
273structure of localized clustering of network edges.
274Modularity scores between 0.30 and 0.70 represent good fit
275for networks estimated from empirical data (Girvan &
277Two indices of centrality were calculated. The first is
278strength centrality which represents the sum of the edge
279weights per node translated to the sum of correlations of the
280node in respective networks. In reference to the entire net-
281work, nodes with high strength centrality are the nodes which
282are highly correlated with other nodes. In terms of the com-
283munity partition of the network, strength centrality serves as
284an indicator of node centrality within the community if the
285node shows moderate or high local clustering coefficient.
286This means that the node is highly correlated and that the
287majority of these correlations are with the nodes within the
288same community. Strength centrality is one of the most uti-
289lized centrality measures because its interpretation does not
290require strong assumptions (idea of distance or shortest path),
291which have been criticized in recent literature, along with
292demonstrated instability of the measures based on the con-
293cepts of betweenness and closeness due to sampling variabil-
294ity (Hallquist, Wright, & Molenaar, 2019; Bringmann et al.,
296The second centrality index is bridge-centrality which is
297based on a discovered community structure of the network.
298Nodes with high bridge-centrality play the role of a mediator
299or the “middleman”connecting nodes from different commu-
300nities. Bridge nodes bring all network nodes closer and create
301indirect paths between distant nodes and increase the cohesion
302of trait network conceived as a system of subscales. There are
303several different measures of how important a node is as a
304bridge between communities, but we focused on bridge ex-
305pected influence as a measure of centrality which indicates a
306node’s sum connectivity outside its own community while
307differentiating between positive and negative edges (Jones,
308Ma, & McNally, 2019). This measure is useful for networks
309that have both negative and positive edges (Robinaugh,
310Millner, & McNally, 2016) and it is based on strength central-
311ity. Bridge expected influence is not a measure estimated from
312the general topography of the network, but rather a measure
313indicating the existence of structural links between two or
314more network communities, which makes its interpretation
315restricted and straightforward. Bootstrap robustness tests (av-
316erages and confidence intervals based on non-parametric
317bootstrap and subsample stability based on case-drop
318boostrap) were performed for both types of centrality indices.
319Estimation of network, clustering, and centrality indices was
320performed using R package “bootnet”(Epskamp, Borsboom,
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321 & Fried, 2018). Sample sizes greater than 250 are generally
322 sufficient for networks estimated from continuous variables
323 and moderate network size (e.g., 25–35 nodes, see
324 Epskamp, 2016). Data and R code are available at https://
328 Results of the correlation analysis showed that there are only a
329 few negative zero-order correlations between the subscales
330 (red squares on Fig. 1), while the majority of the correlations
331 between the subscales were positive (blue squares). Most no-
332 table negative correlations were between need for admiration
333 and indifference, need for admiration and authoritativeness,
334 and shame and indifference, which is in line with the theoret-
335 ical assumptions (Glover, Miller, Lynam, Crego, & Widige,
337 The network based on zero-order correlations showed high
338 stability and robustness in terms of strength centrality (see Fig.
339 Cin Supplement). Entitlement/exploitativeness (15.06), gran-
340 diose exhibitionism (14.65), and leadership/authority from
341 NPI (14.58), as well as entitlement from GNS (14.22) had
342 the highest levels of strength centrality (see Table Ain
343 Supplement). However, low modularity was found for the
344 detected community structure (0.07). Although grandiose
345 and vulnerable narcissism features could be distinguished as
346 two communities (see Fig. Ain Supplement), low modularity
347 implies a weak community structure where nodes have many
348 strong edges with nodes from other communities. In general,
349 the networks based on zero-order correlations are less sparse
350 in comparison with the partial correlation networks. The pres-
351 ence of shared variance produces a multitude of zero-order
352 correlations which weaken the community structure of the
353 network as this type of variance distorts the structure of unique
354 associations between specific groups of nodes and results in
355 lower modularity score. Thus, bridge-centrality would not be
356 appropriate to interpret on this network.
357 Network based on regularized partial correlations showed
358 high stability and robustness in terms of both strength and
359 bridge expected influence centrality (see Fig. Bin
360 Supplement). Contingent self-esteem from PNI (1.46),
361 leadership/authority (1.33), and grandiose exhibitionism from
362 NPI (1.32) had the highest strength centrality (Fig. 4;see
363 Table Ain Supplement for numerical values). The community
364 structure of this network showed adequate modularity (0.34),
365 thus its interpretation is justifiable. Walktrap algorithm was
366 not affected by the value of random seed, giving identical
367 results in every iteration. Taken together, these results showed
368 that the detected community structure network could be con-
369 sidered as stableQ1 (Fig. 2).
370Walktrap community detection algorithm revealed the ex-
371istence of four communities. The first community consists of
372nodes from NPI, FFNI, and GNS, which refer to grandiose
373exhibitionism (Fig. 3). Based on a combination of high
374strength centrality and moderate/high clustering coefficient,
375the most central node in this community is grandiose exhibi-
376tionism from NPI (Fig. 4; see Table Ain Supplement for
377clustering coefficients). Thus, the majority of its edges are
378with nodes from the same community (high clustering) and
379the sum all of edge weights or partial correlations of this node
380is the highest within the community (strength centrality).
381Majority of the subscales from PNI, two subscales from
382GNS, and four from FFNI form the second community, refer-
383ring to vulnerable narcissism. The central node in this com-
384munity is contingent self-esteem. The third community is
385composed of nodes from FFNI and GNS and refers to
386exploitativeness, lack of empathy, and entitlement, thus it
387could serve as grandiose aspect of narcissistic antagonism.
388According to strength centrality, exploitativeness, entitlement,
389and supperiority from GNS and lack of empathy from FFNI
390have somewhat higher centrality than other nodes in this com-
391munity and among them entitlement has the highest clustering
392coefficient, thus this node could be seen as central. Finally, the
393fourth community is defined with a strong edge between ma-
394nipulativeness from FFNI and exploaitativess from PNI, as
395well as a triad consisting of authoritativeness, leadership/au-
396thority, and authority, among which autoritativeness stands
397out as the central node. Thus, this community mostly refers
398to authority but with elements of manipulation and exploita-
399tion. Finally, it could be seen that thrill seeking is very weakly
400connected to the rest of the community and it is connected to
401the rest of the nodes with weak edges only.
402According to the bridge expected influence centrality,
403entitlement/exploitativeness (0.81) and leadership/authority
404(0.6) from NPI and grandiose fantasy (0.61) from PNI are
405the most bridge-central nodes (Fig. 4). Entitlement/
406exploitativeness is the most central node and its bridge expect-
407ed influence is significantly higher compared to all other
408nodes, except for leadership/authority (see Fig. Ein
409Supplement). Entitlement/exploitativeness, followed by gran-
410diose fantasy, has the function in connecting the grandiose
411exhibitionism community and the vulnerable narcissism com-
412munity (the first and the second). On the other hand,
413leadership/authority has an important role in bridging together
414two grandiose narcissism communities, grandiose exhibition-
415ism and authority (the first and the fourth).
417The results of this study point to several main conclusions.
418First, community detection analysis showed that grandiose
419aspect of narcissism is presented as more complex, spreading
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420 to three communities, while vulnerable aspect is detected as a
421 well-structured community. This result reflects the content of
422 the used instruments, as some of them measure only grandiose
423 narcissism (NPI and GNS) while other instruments measure
424 mainly grandiose narcissism by including more subscales that
425 constitute grandiose narcissism compared to vulnerable nar-
426 cissism (FFNI). Thus, although in PNI and FFNI vulnerable
427 narcissism is represented as a multifaceted dimension, it
428 seems that all features of vulnerable narcissism converge to
429 contingent self-esteem, which is in line with NSM (Krizan &
430 Herlache, 2018). This PNI subscale refers to fluctuating, un-
431 stable experience of self-esteem which, depending on the ex-
432 ternal sources, serves as the key feature of vulnerable
433narcissism. The centrality of contingent self-esteem is also
434recognized in a more recent network analysis of PNI, showing
435that contingent self-esteem and entitlement rage, along with
436grandiose fantasies, have the highest strength and closeness
437centrality (Di Pierro et al., 2019).
438Among PNI grandiose narcissism subscales, sacrificing
439self-enhancement was placed in the vulnerable narcissism
440community, while exploitativeness and grandiose fantasies
441belong to certain grandiose narcissism communities.
442Regarding some concerns that PNI measures only vulnerable
443narcissism (e.g., Miller et al., 2016), the results of this study
444showed that, among grandiose narcissism subscales, only
445sacrificing self-enhancement showed similarities with
Fig. 1 Zero-order correlation matrix plot. ACS = acclaim seeking,
ARR = arrogance, AU = authoritativeness, DI = cynicism/distrust,
ENT.FFNI = entitlement, EXH.FFNI = exhibitionism, EXP.FFNI =
exploitativeness, GF.FFNI = grandiose fantasies, IN = indifference,
LEM = lack of empathy, MAN = manipulativeness, NA = need for
admiration, RA = reactive anger, SH = shame, TS = thrill seeking,
CSE = contingent self-esteem, EXP.PNI = exploitativeness, SSSE = self-
sacrificing self-enhancement, HS = hiding the self, GF.PNI = grandiose
fantasy, DEV = devaluing, ER = entitlement rage, AUT = authority,
SUF = self-sufficiency, SUP = superiority, VAN = vanity, EXH.GNS =
exhibitionism, ENT.GNS = entitlement, EXP.GNS = exploitativeness,
LA = leadership/authority, GE = grandiose exhibitionism, EE =
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446 vulnerable narcissism. This subscale refers to the use of pur-
447 portedly altruistic acts to support an inflated self-image.
448 Previous studies showed that it is positively related to Big
449 Five Agreeableness (e.g., Dinić&Vujić,2019b), thus it could
450 be seen as communion aspect of narcissism, which is however
451 manifested in submissive manner as well as vulnerable forms
452 of narcissism.
453 Second, the remaining three communities could be
454 interpreted as three aspects of grandiose narcissism: grandiose
455 exhibitionism, narcissistic antagonism, and authority. The dis-
456 tinction between the grandiose exhibitionism and authority
457 communities could be seen as distinction between more mal-
458 adaptive and more adaptive aspects of grandiose narcissism.
459 Previous studies showed that leadership/authority aspect of
460 narcissism is related to psychological adjustment and health,
461 while exhibitionism and entitlement/exploitativeness are
462 strongly related to psychopathological characteristics (e.g.,
463 Ackerman et al., 2011; Sedikides, Rudich, Gregg,
464 Kumashiro, & Rusbult, 2004; Stanton et al., 2017).
465 Results of this study showed that the central node in the
466 grandiose exhibitionism community is grandiose exhibition-
467 ism and the presence of entitlement/exploitativeness subscale
468highlights the maladaptive aspect of grandiose narcissism
469within this community. Namely, entitlement was character-
470ized as “socially toxic”aspect of narcissism due its relations
471with negative outcomes such are counterproductive school
472behavior and direct expression of hostile feelings and aggres-
473sion (see Ackerman et al., 2011). The centrality of overt
474(exhibitionism) manifestations of narcissistic grandiosity
475could be interpreted in light of Wright’s(2016)notionthat
476the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder primarily fo-
477cuses on overt expressions of narcissistic grandiosity, com-
478pared to subtler forms, such are grandiose fantasies, although
479both forms are seen as central according to experts’rating
480(e.g., Ackerman et al., 2011).
481On the other hand, the authority community is the most
482diverse and captures both leadership/authority and
483manipulation/exploitation aspects. Previous studies on NPI
484showed that although leadership and manipulativeness corre-
485lated highly, leadership could be seen as adaptive and manip-
486ulativeness as maladaptive aspect of grandiose narcissism
487(Dinić&Vujić,2019a). The central node in this community
488is authoritativeness, which is conceptually close to leadership/
489authority which showed some positive outcomes as we
Fig. 2 Regularized partial correlation network
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490 already mentioned (e.g., Ackerman et al., 2011). In addition,
491 authoritativeness was not related to Machiavellianism, psy-
492 chopathy, and externalizing behavior, showed significant neg-
493 ative correlation with depression, and among Five Factor traits
494 showed positive correlation only with Extraversion (Miller,
495 Gentle, & Campbell, 2012). Thus, we could conclude that this
496 community captures mainly adaptive features of narcissism.
497 The centrality of authority features is in line with a previous
498 study on NPI instrument, showing that authority, along with
499 entitlement and superiority, had the highest strength centrality
500 (Briganti & Linkowski, 2019). In addition, both exhibition
501 and authoritativeness were recognized as the main features
502 of grandiose narcissism in NSM (Krizan & Herlache, 2018).
503 The narcissistic antagonism community mainly comprises
504 FFNI antagonism subscales in grandiose narcissism along with
505 entitlement, exploitativeness, and superiority from GNS. The
506 detection of this community is in line with Miller et al. (2017)
507 trifurcated model in which the antagonism, as the core narcis-
508 sism element, is viewed as a broader constellation of antagonis-
509 tic features. According to Miller et al. (2017), antagonism is the
510 key component of both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism,
511but in the detected community it is more characterized by gran-
512diosity. This is in line with results of profile similarity that
513showed that antagonistic factor of narcissism is somewhat more
514similar to grandiose narcissism factor, compared to vulnerable
515narcissism factor (Crowe et al., 2019). The possible explanation
516could be that antagonism manifestations are more diverse in
517grandiose narcissism compared to vulnerable narcissism, which
518is reflected also by the fact that FFNI grandiose narcissism
519contains six subscales of antagonism, while vulnerable includes
520only two. There is no standout central node in this community
521but, based on a combination of strength centrality and clustering
522coefficient, entitlement from GNS could serve as the most cen-
523tral node, which is in line with NSM (Krizan & Herlache, 2018)
524and experts’rating of centrality features in narcissism (e.g.,
525Ackerman et al., 2017).
526Third, the two indices of centrality could offer an insight into
527the role of narcissism features. An important result is that there
528is no one central node, but rather several nodes, in line with
529heterogeneity of narcissism. In the network based on zero-order
530correlations, the features with the highest strength centrality
531include entitlement/exploitativeness, grandiose exhibitionism,
Fig. 3 Network communities in regularized partial correlation network. Legend: 1 = grandiose exhibitionism, 2 = vulnerable narcissism, 3 = grandiose
narcissistic antagonism, 4 = grandiose authority
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Fig. 4 Sample (red) and bootstrap average (black) values and confidence
intervals (gray) of strength centrality (left) and bridge expected influence
(right) based on regularized partial correlation network. VAN = vanity,
TS = thrill seeking, SUP = superiority, SUF = self-sufficiency, SSSE =
self-sacrificing self-enhancement, SH = shame, RA = reactive anger,
NA = need for admiration, MAN = manipulativeness, LEM = lack of
empathy, LA = leadership/authority, IN = indifference, HS = hiding the
self, GF.PNI = grandiose fantasy, GF.FFNI = grandiose fantasies, GE =
grandiose exhibitionism, EXP.PNI = exploitativeness, EXP.GNS =
exploitativeness, EXP.FFNI = exploitativeness, EXH.GNS =
exhibitionism, EXH.FFNI = exhibitionism, ER = entitlement rage,
ENT.GNS = entitlement, ENT.FFNI = entitlement, EE = entitlement/
exploitativeness, DI = cynicism/distrust, DEV = devaluing, CSE =
contingent self-esteem, AUT = authority, AU = authoritativeness,
ARR = arrogance, ACS = acclaim seeking
JrnlID 12144_ArtID 1250_Proof# 1 - 05/12/2020
532 leadership/authority, and entitlement. This result suggested that
533 entitlement features could be seen as the core element (Krizan
534 & Herlache, 2018), along with two grandiosity features,
535 reflecting the maladaptive and adaptive aspects of grandiosity
536 (e.g., Ackerman et al., 2011). However, the features of vulner-
537 able narcissism were missing, and these results are in line with
538 experts’favoring grandiose features of narcissism as more cen-
539 tral (e.g., Ackerman et al., 2017). In the network based on
540 regularized partial correlation network, the centrality of the
541 same grandiose narcissism features (leadership/authority and
542 grandiose exhibitionism) is also recognized, along with contin-
543 gent self-esteem, highlighting the central aspect of vulnerable
544 narcissism. However, the features of entitlement or other antag-
545 onism aspects were missing. Thus, due to partialization, contin-
546 gent self-esteem emerged as central, meaning that this feature
547 has unique variance, not shared by the rest of the nodes in the
548 network. On the contrary, the missing central features of enti-
549 tlement could indicate that these features were highly connected
550 to other nodes, thus partialization affects their unique variance.
551 Regardless of these incongruent results, centrality indices on
552 both zero-order and partial correlations could offer a valuable
553 insight into the underlying structural organization of narcissism
555 Furthermore, bridge-centrality highlighted the role of cer-
556 tain features in describing the narcissism core. Based on
557 bridge-centrality, entitlement/exploitativeness, leadership/au-
558 thority, and grandiose fantasy stand out as the central nodes
559 and their role is in connecting detected communities, i.e., dif-
560 ferent narcissism aspects. Entitlement/exploitativeness,
561 followed by grandiose fantasy, connects the grandiose exhibi-
562 tionism and vulnerable narcissism community. Although
563 overt (exhibitionism) manifestations of narcissism are seen
564 as strength-central within the grandiose exhibitionism com-
565 munity, high bridge-centrality of grandiose fantasy highlights
566 the role of more covert manifestation of narcissism in
567 connecting grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, which is in
568 line with experts’rating of central features of narcissism (e.g.,
569 Ackerman et al., 2017) and notion that vulnerable narcissism
570 comprises more subtle forms of narcissism (Wright, 2016).
571 Leadership/authority connects two grandiose narcissism com-
572 munities, grandiose exhibitionism and authority. Thus, the
573 results support the NSM structure (Krizan & Herlache,
574 2018) and the role of entitlement features as the common core
575 of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. However, not all as-
576 pects of grandiose narcissism are connected through entitle-
577 ment features. Namely, authority/leadership aspect of grandi-
578 ose narcissism seems distant from the entitlement core,
579 supporting the view of this aspect of narcissism as more adap-
580 tive (e.g., Ackerman et al., 2011).
581 It should be noted that nodes from the narcissistic antago-
582 nism community were not listed among nodes with the highest
583 bridge-centrality. In this community, there are rather several
584 nodes with medium bridge-centrality, meaning that different
585nodes connect the narcissistic antagonism community with
586other communities. For example, the antagonism community
587is connected to the grandiose exhibitionism community main-
588ly through entitlement from GNS, and to the authority com-
589munity mainly through superiority.
590Fourth, the fact that subscales from NPI serve as the central
591features support the importance of this measure, despite some
592doubts about its validity (e.g., Rosenthal, Montoya, Ridings,
593Rieck, & Hooley, 2011). Previous research showed that NPI
594matched the experts’ratings of narcissistic personality disor-
595der (e.g., Miller et al., 2014). The results of this research add to
596validity of NPI on the general and non-clinical sample, show-
597ing that some NPI subscales are very well-connected to other
598important features of narcissism in different communities.
599Exclusion of the mentioned NPI subscales would lead to a
600less cohesive narcissism network.
601Last, the results showed that thrill seeking has weak edges
602with the rest of the nodes in the narcissism network. Thrill
603seeking refers to a tendency to engage in risky behaviors for
604the sake of excitement. Previous studies showed mixed results
605on whether narcissism is more related to impulsivity (e.g.,
606Brunell & Buelow, 2018;Vazire&Funder,2006)orspecific
607impulsivity-related traits (e.g., sensation seeking, see Miller
608et al., 2009). Thus, future studies should further explore the
609status of thrill seeking in the narcissism network and model.
610There are some limitations of this study. First, it should be
611noted that there are other proposals of dimensionality of gran-
612diose narcissism, e.g., admiration and rivalry strategies (Back
613et al., 2013) or agentic and communal narcissism (e.g.,
614Gebauer, Sedikides, Verplanken, & Maio, 2012). Thus, the
615community structure can depend on specific instruments ap-
616plied in the analysis. Although there are other narcissism in-
617struments and models, in this study we focused on the widely
618used distinction between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.
619Furthermore, previous results showed, for example, that ad-
620miration correlated highly with grandiosity (leadership/au-
621thority and grandiose exhibitionism) while rivalry correlated
622with both grandiosity (entitlement/exploitativeness) and vul-
623nerability (Back et al., 2013), thus it seems that inclusion of
624these strategies would not substantially change the explored
625narcissism network. However, grandiose narcissism is over-
626represented in narcissism assessment tools in general so future
627studies should include more aspects of vulnerable narcissism.
628Second, the stability of the networks was estimated using
629only bootstrap analysis, which does not resolve the issue
630concerning the influence of sampling variability and instabil-
631ity of the estimated network across different samples.
632Bootstrap estimated confidence intervals and significance test-
633ing should be treated with caution in regularized partial cor-
634relation network, which itself is a result of an automated mod-
635el selection procedure that limits the inference based on
636bootstrapped estimates. Therefore, the results of network anal-
637ysis are exploratory. However, the finding that there is no one
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638 clear central node in the narcissism network, but rather several
639 ones, contributes to the robustness of the explored structure of
640 the narcissism network and since there is a clear community
641 structure with clear differentiation between the nodes of dif-
642 ferent communities, such network is more stable than a net-
643 work with one or two centrality nodes in the partial correla-
644 tional structure. Future study should consider Bayesian alter-
645 native (Bayesian Gaussian Graphical Models, see Williams &
646 Mulder, 2020) which allows for hypothesis testing based on
647 the assumptions about the structural features of the network.
648 However, application of these models into network approach
649 is still in the development phase.
650 To conclude, the results of the present study provide sup-
651 port for heterogeneity of grandiose narcissism, while vulner-
652 able narcissism could be seen as a more homogeneous dimen-
653 sion, at least in the used set of instruments. The central fea-
654 tures of vulnerable (contingent self-esteem) and both mal-
655 adaptive (grandiose exhibitionism) and adaptive (leadership/
656 authority, authoritativeness) aspects of narcissism were recog-
657 nized, along with entitlement as the central core of narcissistic
658 antagonism. Furthermore, entitlement/exploitativeness is the
659 main element that brings together maladaptive grandiose and
660 vulnerable aspects of narcissism, supporting the role of enti-
661 tlement features as the core of narcissism, while leadership/
662 authority brings together various aspects of grandiose narcis-
663 sism. The underlying organization of the explored narcissism
664 network reflects the complexity of narcissism and could offer
665 a promising support for development of the narcissism model.
666 Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary
667 material available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-01250-w.
668 Funding This study was supported by the Ministry of Education,Science
669 and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia [Grant
671 Data Availability https://osf.io/hfdsx/?view_only246b76dd1=
673 Compliance with Ethical Standards
674 Conflict of Interest On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author
675 states that there is no conflict of interest.
676 Ethics Approval The research was approved by the by the Ethical
677 Committee of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad,
678 Serbia, which is the Second Instance Commission of the Ethical
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