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Narcissism through the lens of performative self-elevation

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Abstract

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is conceptualized as excessive self-love and divided into subtypes known as grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Psychopathy is also characterized by a grandiose sense of self. Here, we aim to refine the understanding of how these conditions relate. We developed a scale to assess performative self-elevation (FLEX), designed to probe insecurity driven self-conceptualizations that manifest as impression management lead to self-elevating tendencies. We correlated the FLEX scale with commonly used measures to investigate social desirability, self-esteem, and psychopathy in a high-powered sample of participants. We find that FLEX correlates highly with narcissism, but not psychopathy. We conclude that narcissism corresponds most closely to vulnerable narcissism and is characterized by self-elevating behaviors that are well captured by FLEX.

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