Collective Narcissism 1
Running head: COLLECTIVE NARCISSISM AND ITS SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES
Collective Narcissism and its Social Consequences
Agnieszka Golec de Zavala
University of Warsaw
University of Pennsylvania
Key words: collective narcissism, intergroup aggression
Agnieszka Golec de Zavala is a Senior Lecturer at School of Health and Social
Sciences at Middlesex University, UK. Aleksandra Cichocka is a PhD candidate at University
of Warsaw, Poland. Roy J. Eidelson is president of Eidelson Consulting and is the former
Executive Director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the
University of Pennsylvania. Nuwan Jayawickreme is a Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical
Psychology, Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, University of Pennsylvania.
Portions of this manuscript were presented at the Annual Meetings of International
Society of Political Psychology, July 2007, Portland and July 2008, Paris. Studies 3 and 4
were partially supported by the research grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher
Education (1 H01F 052 30) awarded to Agnieszka Golec de Zavala. We would like to thank
David Goodwin for his invaluable comments on an early version of the Collective Narcissism
Collective Narcissism 2
Scale; Jan Swierszcz for his help with conducting studies 3 and 4; Gianmario Candore,
Christopher M. Federico, Neil Martin, Clark McCauley, Robert T. Schatz, Robbie Sutton,
and three anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on earlier versions of this
manuscript. Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to Agnieszka Golec de
Zavala, Department of Psychology, Middlesex University, The Town Hall, The Burroughs,
Hendon, London NW4 4BT, UK. Email: a.golec@MDX.ac.uk Phone +44 2084114902
This paper introduces the concept of collective narcissism - an emotional investment in an
unrealistic belief about the in-group’s greatness – aiming to explain how feelings about an in-
group shape a tendency to aggress against out-groups. The results of 5 studies indicate that
collective, but not individual, narcissism predicts inter-group aggressiveness. Collective
narcissism is related to high private and low public collective self esteem and low implicit
group esteem. It predicts perceived threat from out-groups, unwillingness to forgive out-
groups and preference for military aggression over and above social dominance orientation,
right wing authoritarianism, and blind patriotism. The relationship between collective
narcissism and aggressiveness is mediated by perceived threat from out-groups and perceived
insult to the in-group. In sum, the results indicate that collective narcissism is a form of high
but ambivalent group esteem related to sensitivity to threats to the in-group’s image and
Collective Narcissism 3
Collective Narcissism and its Social Consequences
Research has demonstrated that certain forms of positive in-group identification and
group esteem are more likely than others to be accompanied by out-group enmity (e.g.
Brown, 2000; Rubin & Hewstone, 1998; but see also Heaven, Rajab & Ray, 1984; Sherif,
1958; Sumner, 1906; Tajfel & Turner, 1986; in the context of national groups see e.g. de
Figueiredo & Elkins, 2003; Federico, Golec & Dial, 2005; Feshbach, 1987; Kosterman &
Feshbach, 1989; Mummendey, Klink, & Brown, 2001; Struch & Schwartz, 1989; Viroli,
1995). Despite the insights this rich literature provides, there is no agreement as to what kind
of in-group attachment is most likely to produce out-group negativity, and why. In this paper
we propose a concept of collective narcissism which describes an in-group identification tied
to an emotional investment in an unrealistic belief about the unparalleled greatness of an in-
group. By introducing this concept we seek to shed new light on the capacity of positive
group esteem to inspire intergroup aggressiveness.
The concept of collective narcissism extends into the intergroup domain the concept
of individual narcissism: an excessive self love or inflated, grandiose view of oneself that
requires continual external validation (e.g. Crocker & Park, 2004; Emmons, 1987; Horney,
1937; Morf, & Rhodewalt, 2001; Raskin & Terry, 1988; Rhodewalt & Morf, 1995;
Rhodewalt & Sorrow, 2003)
. Following the studies that project ego related processes onto a
group level (e.g. Bizman & Yinon, 2004; Bizman, Yinon & Krotman, 2001; Crocker &
Luhtanen, 1990; Eidelson & Eidelson, 2003; Hornsey, 2003; Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992), we
expect that if people can be narcissistic about their personal identities, they can also be
narcissistic about their collective identities. A similar search for the group level equivalent of
individual narcissism can be found in recent work of Bizumic and Duckitt (2008). These
authors suggest that ethnocentrism understood as group self-importance and group-
centeredness can be seen as group narcissism. The account presented in this paper is
Collective Narcissism 4
different. We assume that collective narcissism is an exaggerated and unstable collective self-
esteem. What lies in the core of collective narcissism is an inflated image of an in-group,
rather than the self. Thus, while group self-importance and centeredness are part of the
concept of collective narcissism, we also assume that the positive image of the in-group is
excessive and difficult to sustain. Our predictions about the intergroup effects of collective
narcissism are an extension of Threatened Egotism Theory (Baumeister, Bushman &
Campbell, 2000; Bushman & Baumeister, 1998) into the intergroup relations.
Individual and Collective Narcissism
Collective narcissism is seen as an extension of individual narcissism to the social
aspects of self. It is an in-group, rather than an individual self, that is idealized. A positive
relationship between individual and collective narcissism can be expected since the self
concept consists of personal self and social identities based on the groups to which people
belong (Hornsey, 2003). Idealization of self may be followed by idealization of in-groups
(see Rocass, Klar & Liviatan, 2006). It has been demonstrated that the evaluation of novel
in-groups (created in minimal group paradigm tasks) is shaped by peoples’ evaluations of
themselves: individuals with high personal self-esteem evaluate their new in-groups more
positively than individuals with low self-esteem (Gramzow & Gaertner, 2005). Collective
narcissists may see groups as extensions of themselves and expect everybody to recognize
not only their individual greatness but also the prominence of their in-groups. It has also been
suggested that especially in collectivistic cultures individual narcissism may stem from the
reputation and honor of the groups to which one belongs (e.g. Warren & Caponi, 1996).
However, narcissistic idealization of a group may be also a strategy to protect a weak
and threatened ego. This possibility has been suggested by Adorno (1998) (see also Arendt,
1971; Vaknin, 2003), Fromm (1941), and status politics theorists (Gusfield, 1963; Hofstadter,
1965; Lipset & Raab, 1970). These authors suggest that narcissistic identification with an in-
Collective Narcissism 5
group is likely to emerge in social and cultural contexts that diminish the ego and/or socialize
individuals to put their group in the centre of their lives, attention, emotions and actions.
Thus, the development of narcissistic group identification can be fostered by certain social
contexts independently of individual-level narcissism.
Therefore, one form of narcissism does not have to automatically lead to another and
people can be narcissistic only at an individual or only at a collective level. The relationship
between individual and collective narcissism, although positive, is likely not to be high. Most
importantly, collective narcissism is expected to predict intergroup attitudes and actions,
whereas individual narcissism is expected to be related to interpersonal actions and attitudes
(see Abrams & Hogg, 1988; Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990; but see also Jordan, Spencer, &
Collective Narcissism and Intergroup Aggression
The Threatened Egotism Theory provides an explanation for numerous findings
linking individual narcissism and interpersonal aggressiveness and hostility (Baumeister,
Smart & Boden, 1996; Bushman & Baumeister, 1998; Baumeister et al., 2000; Raskin,
Novacek& Hogan, 1991; Rhodewalt & Morf, 1995; 1998), interpersonal dominance
tendencies (Ruiz, Smith & Rhodewalt, 2001), and the inability to forgive (Exline,
Baumeister, Bushman, Campbell & Finkel, 2004) accompanied by a tendency to seek
vengeance (Brown, 2004).
According to the Threatened Egotism Theory, individual narcissism is a ‘risk factor’
that contributes to a violent and aggressive response to perceived provocation: unfair
treatment, criticism, doubts or insult. Interpersonal aggression is a means of defending the
grandiose self-image. Narcissists invest emotionally in their high opinion of themselves,
demand that others confirm that opinion and punish those who seem unlikely to do so. Since
they require constant validation of unrealistic greatness of the self, narcissists are likely to
Collective Narcissism 6
continually encounter threats to their self image and be chronically intolerant of them
(Baumeister et al., 1996). Individual narcissists are suggested to possess high but unstable
personal self-esteem (e.g. Kernis, 1993). Such personal self-esteem is vulnerable to sudden
drops that produce heightened sensitivity to ego threats, in turn leading to hostility (Bushman
& Baumeister, 1998; Kernis, 1993). Thus, individual narcissism is related to cognitive,
motivational and emotional functioning that impairs interpersonal relations (e.g. Morf &
Rhodewalt, 2001) even though it is, at the same time, associated with subjective well-being
(Sedikides, Rudich, Gregg, Kumashiro & Rusbult, 2004). Few studies suggest that defensive
personal self-esteem that is proposed to characterize individual narcissists (Jordan, Spencer,
Zanna, Hoshino-Browne & Correll, 2003) may be also related to intergroup bias (Jordan,
Spencer & Zanna, 2005).
The Threatened Egotism Theory explains the link between individual aggressiveness
and retaliatory aggression in interpersonal contexts. We argue that collective (rather than
individual) narcissism explains variance in intergroup (rather than interpersonal)
aggressiveness and hostility. The mechanism underlying this relationship should be
analogous to the mechanism underlying the link between individual narcissism and
interpersonal aggressiveness (see Baumeister et al., 1996; Emmons, 1987; Staub, 1989 for
suggestions that some form of group level narcissism should be linked to intergroup
aggressiveness). Collective narcissists are assumed to be emotionally invested in a grandiose
image of their in-group. This image is excessive and demands constant validation. Therefore,
it is vulnerable to challenges from within (e.g., internal criticism) or from outside (e.g. from
out-groups that endanger or put into doubt the prominence of an in-group). It is expected that
intergroup hostility and aggression are a means of protecting the group’s image. Thus,
collective narcissists are expected to be particularly prone to interpret the actions of others as
signs of disrespect, criticism or disapproval of an in-group and react aggressively. They are
Collective Narcissism 7
also expected to react aggressively to actual criticism and other situations that threaten a
positive image of an in-group. They are expected to often feel unfairly and unjustly treated in
an intergroup context since no treatment or recognition is seen as good enough for the
deserving in-group. Moreover, it is expected that collective narcissists are not willing to
forgive and forget previous insults or unfairness to an in-group experienced from other
groups. Thus, they are likely to hold prejudice towards out-groups with whom they share a
history of mutual grievances and wrongdoings. Collective narcissism is also expected to
predict a preference for violent and coercive actions towards out-groups in intergroup
conflicts and a likelihood of perceiving intergroup situations as conflictual even before they
turn into open conflicts. In an intergroup situation that is not yet an open conflict, people who
are sensitive to signs of disrespect are more likely to interpret ambiguous events in an in-
group threatening manner and react aggressively.
Aims of the Present Studies
In order to test the above predictions and demonstrate the construct validity and
explanatory power of the concept of collective narcissism, we conducted a series of 5 studies.
In Study 1 conducted among American participants, we look at collective narcissism with
reference to a national in-group. We test the factorial structure, the reliability, the divergent,
convergent and predictive validity of the Collective Narcissism Scale. Most importantly, we
test the hypothesis that collective narcissism predicts the perception of threat to the in-group,
intergroup aggressiveness and the inability to forgive past wrongdoings by out-groups,
independently of other variables frequently associated with out-group enmity, such as blind
patriotism (Schatz, Staub & Lavine, 1999), social dominance orientation (Pratto, Sidanius,
Stallworth & Malle, 1994) and right wing authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1996). The study was
conducted in the context of the war on terrorism.
Collective Narcissism 8
In Study 2 conducted in Britain, we test the prediction that collective and individual
narcissism, although positively correlated, are separate variables. We test the hypothesis that
individual rather than collective narcissism predicts interpersonal aggressiveness, whereas
collective rather than individual narcissism predicts out-group negativity. In this study we
examine collective narcissism in the context of ethnic in-groups.
In Study 3 conducted among Polish participants, we look at the relationship between
collective narcissism and an aspect of individual narcissism associated with unconstructive
interpersonal behavior that is psychological entitlement (Campbell, Bonacci, Shelton, Exline
& Bushman, 2004). We test the assumption that only collective narcissism predicts out-group
negativity. The narcissistic identification with a national in-group is measured.
In Study 4, conducted in Poland, we examine feelings and beliefs about the in-group
underlying national collective narcissism and we test the hypotheses that collective
narcissism is predicted by an interaction between private collective self-esteem (Crocker &
Luthanen, 1990) and negative implicit national group esteem as well as a high private and
low public collective self-esteem.
In Study 5, conducted in a Mexican sample, we test the hypothesis, derived from the
Threatened Egotism Theory, that the tendency to perceive ambiguous out-group behaviors as
disrespectful to the in-group mediates the relationship between collective narcissism and
intergroup aggressiveness. In this study, social dominance orientation and right wing
authoritarianism are expected to be related to different perceptions and different behavioral
Study 1: Development and Validation of the Collective Narcissism Scale
In the first study we test the psychometric propensities of the Collective Narcissism
Scale. In order to initially test the divergent validity of the scale, we examine the relationship
between collective narcissism and personal self-esteem. We assume that this relationship may
Collective Narcissism 9
be positive but should not be strong and may not even reach the level of statistical
significance. We hypothesize that collective narcissism may be positively associated with
individual narcissism. Individual narcissism is related to high and unstable, personal self-
esteem (Kernis, 1993; Rhodewalt et al, 1998; for discussion of the relationship between
individual narcissism and personal self-esteem see also Sedikides et al., 2004). Empirical
evidence indicates that level and stability of personal self-esteem are distinct and, at least
partially, autonomous dimensions (Kernis & Waschull, 1995; Kernis, 2005)
. Thus, although
likely to be associated with high and unstable, personal self-esteem, collective narcissism is
not necessarily equally likely to be linked to general assessment of individual self-worth.
In order to test the convergent and predictive validity of the Collective Narcissism
Scale we examine the relationships between collective narcissism and national group
identification, patriotism, right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. In
addition, we test an assumption that these variables and collective narcissism independently
predict intergroup aggressiveness, perceived in-group threat and inability to forgive out-
groups for wrongs done to the in-group.
Collective Narcissism, National Group Identification and Patriotism
We expect that national collective narcissism will be positively related to national
identification and blind rather than constructive patriotism. Studies show that blind patriotism
is an uncritical idealization of the nation, whereas constructive patriotism does not avoid
criticism of the national group but welcomes it as a prospect of betterment. In addition, blind
patriotism is related to out-group negativity, prejudice and aggressiveness, whereas
constructive patriotism is associated with tolerance and more benevolent intergroup attitudes
(Schatz & Staub, 1997; Schatz et al., 1999).
Collective narcissism and blind patriotism overlap in the uncritical approach towards
the national in-group. However, collective narcissism is a broader concept than blind
Collective Narcissism 10
patriotism. It is assumed that people can narcissistically identify with groups other than their
nation. Moreover, collective narcissism is likely to be primarily preoccupied with validating
and protecting the in-group’s image, less so with securing its dominant position. This last
concern is, however, often associated with blind patriotism (Schatz et al., 1999; see also Bar-
Tal, 1996; de Figueiredo & Elkins, 2003).
Collective Narcissism and Social Dominance Orientation
We expect that collective narcissism will be positively related to social dominance
orientation - a desire for hierarchical social order and unequal relations among social groups
(Pratto et al., 1994; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Social dominance orientation is composed of
two factors: support for group-based dominance and generalized opposition to equality
regardless of the in-group’s position in the power structure. The group based dominance is
theorized to be responsible for the in-group favoritism associated with social dominance
orientation (Jost & Thompson, 2000) and this is where this variable intersects with collective
narcissism. The two variables overlap in their preoccupation with the in-group’s greatness.
However, collective narcissism is expected to be unrelated to opposition to equality. For
collective narcissists, the persistence of social hierarchies is not likely to be a vital concern.
Importantly, the grandiose image of an in-group does not have to be based on its power,
social status or economic dominance. Any other excuse or group characteristic can be used to
support the belief in the uniqueness and greatness of an in-group. In addition, social
dominance orientation and collective narcissism are likely to predict intergroup
aggressiveness for different reasons. For social dominance orientation the primary reason is
securing the dominant position of an in-group, whereas aggressiveness related to collective
narcissism is responsive to perceived threats to the in-group’s image.
Collective Narcissism and Right Wing Authoritarianism
Collective Narcissism 11
These two variables are expected to be positively correlated. Right wing
authoritarianism is defined as the convergence of (1) submissiveness to established and
legitimate social authorities; (2) adherence to social conventions that are endorsed by society
and its authorities, and (3) aggressiveness against those who question or endanger social
order and those indicated by authorities (e.g. Altemeyer, 1998). Both collective narcissism
and authoritarianism are concerned with the coherence and homogeneity of an in-group. In
the case of authoritarianism, the cohesiveness secures order and predictability in social
environment and reduces the possibility of experiencing undesirable cognitive uncertainty
(e.g. Duckitt, 2006; Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski & Sulloway, 2003; Kruglanski & Webster,
1996). For collective narcissists, in-group coherence is likely to confirm the assumed,
unanimously accepted greatness of the in-group. Authoritarianism and collective narcissism
are likely to predict sensitivity to threat to the in-group and out-group negativity (for the
relationship between authoritarianism and responsiveness to threat see e.g. Duckitt & Fisher,
2003). However, while in the case of authoritarianism, aggressiveness serves to protect the
group as predictable social environment; collective narcissism is likely to be more concerned
with securing the in-group’s positive image.
Participants and Procedure
The first study was conducted among 263 students at a large American university in
late 2005. Their ages ranged from 17 to 26 (M = 18.69; SD = .99; 2 students failed to provide
information about age). There were 191 women and 72 men. Participants were asked to
complete an online questionnaire containing several psychological measures in return for
research participation credit.
Collective Narcissism 12
Item Generation. In order to create the Collective Narcissism Scale, items were
generated based on the definition of the construct and existing inventories of individual
narcissism, mostly the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) (Emmons, 1987; Raskin &
Terry, 1988) and Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III). We used the items that
corresponded to the core aspects of the concept of individual narcissism but at the same time
could be meaningfully translated onto a group level. More specifically, we used items loading
on Leadership/Authority, Exploitativeness/Entitlement, Superiority/Arrogance factors
differentiated by Emmons (1987) or Authority, Superiority, Exploitativeness and Entitlement
factors differentiated by Raskin and Terry (1988). Only a few items from the Self-absorption/
Self-admiration factor differentiated by Emmons (1987) and Vanity, Self-Sufficiency and
Exhibitionism factors differentiated by Raskin and Terry (1988) were used, since most of the
items that loaded on these factors reflected opinions about physical aspect of the self,
individual actions or relationships between self and others that cannot be meaningfully
converted into group actions (e.g. “I like to look at myself in the mirror a lot” or “Everybody
likes to hear my stories”).
We used items corresponding to perceived exceptionality, superiority and authority
over others (e.g. “People always seem to recognize my authority” became “I wish other
groups would more quickly recognize authority of my group” or “I have a natural talent for
influencing people” became “My group has all predispositions to influence and direct
others”); a special contribution or significance of the self (e.g. “If I ruled the world it would
be a much better place” became “If my group had a major say in the world, the world would
be a much better place”); self-absorption (e.g. “I am an extraordinary person” became “My
group is extraordinary”); the need to be the center of attention (e.g. “I like to be the center of
attention” became “I like when my group is a center of attention”); special deservingness
and entitlement (e.g. “I will be never satisfied until I get all I deserve” became “I will never
Collective Narcissism 13
be satisfied until my group gets all it deserves”; “I insist upon getting the respect that is due
to me” became “I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it” or “I want to
amount to something in the eyes of the world” became “I want my group to amount to
something in the eyes of the world”) and items reflecting sensitivity to criticism and lack of
recognition, adopted mostly from MCMI-III (e.g. “People have never given me enough
recognition for the things that I have done” became “Not many people seem to fully
understand the importance of my group”).
For selected items, beliefs about the self were replaced with beliefs about one’s in-
group and whole sentences were adjusted where necessary. The construct of collective
narcissism and the items selected to measure it were then discussed with experts in the fields
of political and social psychology, clinical psychology, political science and conflict
resolution practitioners. After this discussion the wording of some items was again adjusted
to better reflect the crucial aspects of the concept of collective narcissism. Twenty-three items
were generated for further analyses (see Table 1). For Study 1, the scale was constructed in
which participants were asked to think about their national in-group and indicate the degree
to which they agreed with a given item using a 6-point scale (1 = “I strongly disagree” and 6
= “I strongly agree”).
----------------------Insert Table 1 about here----------------
In order to assess the divergent, convergent and predictive validity of the Collective
Narcissism Scale, additional measures were included in the questionnaire. The 7-point Likert
scale (1 – “totally disagree” to 7 – “totally agree”) was used throughout the rest of the
Personal self-esteem. (M = 5.07; SD = 1.57). Participants were asked to what extent
they agree with the statement “I have high self-esteem”.
Constructive patriotism and blind patriotisms. Five items measuring constructive (α =
Collective Narcissism 14
.71; M = 4.00; SD =.55) and 5 items measuring blind patriotism (α =.78; M = 2.17; SD = .65)
were randomly selected from the original scale proposed by Schatz and colleagues (1999).
Social dominance orientation. An abbreviated 10-item version of the Social Dominance
Orientation Scale (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) was used (α = .85; M = 2.25; SD = .64) following
its successful application by McFarland (2005). According to the suggestions of Jost and
Thompson (2000), we constructed a group based dominance (α = .83; M = 2.48; SD = .78)
and an opposition to equality (α = .82; M = 1.92; SD = .69) subscale.
Right wing authoritarianism. The abbreviated version of the original Right Wing
Authoritarianism Scale proposed by Altemeyer (1988) was used (α = .82; M = 2.17; SD =
.60) following McFarland (2005).
National group identification. A six-item scale (α = .82; M = 3.01; SD = .58) was
adapted from Brown, Condor, Matthews, Wade, and Williams (1986) in order to assess the
strength of identification with the national in-group.
Unwillingness to forgive out-groups. In order to measure this variable, we adapted 4
items (α = .63 M = 2.73; SD = .61) from the scale proposed by Hewstone et al. (2004).
Perception of threat to the United States from out-groups. This variable was measured
by the following 3 items: “Islamic fundamentalism is a critical threat to the U.S.;”
“Unfriendly countries with nuclear weapons are a critical threat to the U.S.;” and
“International terrorism is a critical threat to U.S.” (α = .73; M = 3.77; SD = .69).
Preference for military aggression. The scale measuring this variable consisted of the
following 10 items: ;” “Military strength is more important than respect abroad;” “U.S.
military spending should be increased;” “Military strength is more important than economic
strength”; I supported going to war against Iraq;” “U.S. made the right decision going to
war with Iraq;” “The situation in Iraq is improving;” “Most Iraqis want the U.S. to leave”
(reversed); “Iraq gave support to Al Qaeda;” “U.S. military has tried to avoid civilian
Collective Narcissism 15
casualties in Iraq;” and “President Bush should have built more international support for
war in Iraq” (reversed) (α = .89; M = 2.43; SD = .64).
Factor Structure of the Collective Narcissism Scale
In order to test the factor structure of the Collective Narcissism Scale, a maximum
likelihood exploratory factor analysis was performed on the data collected in Study 1. A
scree plot analysis indicated that a one-factor solution was most appropriate. The one factor
explained 26% of the variance (eigenvalue = 5.91; the second factor had an eigenvalue of
1.31 and explained only 4% more variance over and above the first). However, a maximum
likelihood confirmatory factor analysis showed that the one-factor model underlying all 23
items did not fit the data very well (Table 2).
Thus, the initial 23-item scale was shortened to 9 items. These items were selected on
the basis of their face validity as evaluated by experts, the strength of their factor loadings,
and the strength of their contribution to the overall reliability of the scale. Experts in political,
social and clinical psychology evaluated the relevance and representativeness of the items.
Items with factor loadings of .60 and higher were retained. One item with factor loading .58
was also retained due to its face valid connection to the concept of collective narcissism.
However, items 10 and 11, with similar factor loadings did not receive expert consensus due
to their excessive resemblance to items measuring nationalism, national pride and group
identification and they were dropped from the scale (Simms & Watson, 2007). The results of
the maximum likelihood confirmatory factor analysis indicate that the corrected model with
nine items relating to one latent factor had a very good fit to the data that improved after
adjusting for correlated error variances. The same solution with one latent factor measured by
nine items was confirmed in a Polish validation sample of 401 students and in a British
validation sample of 47 students (Table 2)
Collective Narcissism 16
----------------------Insert Table 2 about here----------------
Collective Narcissism Scale Reliability
The final 9-item Collective Narcissism Scale has high internal consistency. The
Cronbach’s alpha of the Scale in Study 1 is .86 (M = 3.18; SD = .58). The scale produced
item-total correlations greater than .24. The mean inter-item correlation was .42. In both
validation samples, the 9-item scale had reasonable to high reliability (α = .74 in the Polish
study and α = .84 in the British study).
Collective Narcissism Scale Validation: Relationship with Social Dominance Orientation,
Right Wing Authoritarianism, National Group Identification and Patriotism.
In Study 1 participants are asked to think about their national group while completing
the Collective Narcissism Scale. Therefore, in order to test the convergent validity of the
scale, correlations of collective narcissism with national group identification, blind and
constructive patriotism are assessed. We also examine correlations between collective
narcissism and right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, especially its
group based dominance factor (Table 3).
----------------------Insert Table 3 about here----------------
Positive correlations were expected and found between collective narcissism and
national group identification, blind patriotism and social dominance orientation and right
wing authoritarianism. Both factors of social dominance orientation - group based dominance
(r(260) = .56; p < .001) and opposition to equality (r(260) = .29; p < .001) - are related to
collective narcissism. The factors are positively correlated (r(260) = .45; p < .001). Thus, in
order to assess the unique relationship between collective narcissism and aspects of social
dominance orientation, we performed the multiple regression analysis in which group based
dominance and opposition to equality were included as predictors and collective narcissism
was a criterion variable (controlling for age and gender). The results confirm that collective
Collective Narcissism 17
narcissism has a unique and positive relationship only with group based dominance (b = .40;
SE = .04; p < .001), but not with opposition to equality (b = .04; SE = .05; p =.46; F (2,256) =
29.57; p < .001; R
The data show that collective narcissism is positively correlated with blind and
negatively correlated with constructive patriotism. Constructive and blind patriotism are
negatively correlated. Thus, in order to assess the unique relationship between collective
narcissism and each form of patriotism, we performed the multiple regression analysis in
which two forms of patriotism were included as predictors and collective narcissism was a
criterion variable (controlling for age and gender). The results reveal that collective
narcissism is independently related only to blind (b = 55; SE = .05; p < .001), but not to
constructive patriotism (b = 08; SE = .06; p = .16; F(4,256) = 35.03; p < .001; R
These results confirm the convergent validity of the Collective Narcissism Scale.
In addition, in order to preliminarily test the divergent validity of the Collective
Narcissism Scale, we examined its correlation with a variable corresponding to attitude
towards the self that should not bear common variance with collective narcissism that is
personal self-esteem. The correlational analyses reveal that the relationship between
collective narcissism and personal self-esteem is positive, very small and not significant
(r(260) = .002; p = . 98).
Predictive Validity of the Collective Narcissism Scale: Relationship with Perceived Threat
from Out-Groups, Inability to Forgive and Support for Military Aggression
We examine the predictive validity of the Collective Narcissism Scale looking at the
relationship between collective narcissism, the inability to forgive for wrongs done to the in-
group by other groups, perceived threat from out-groups’ aggression and support for military
aggression. We expect that collective narcissism will account for the variance in all three
dependent variables over and above other related variables such as social dominance
Collective Narcissism 18
orientation, right wing authoritarianism, patriotism, and national group identification. We
also assume that the pattern of relationships between collective narcissism and the dependent
variables may be complex. More specifically, we expect that the relationship between
collective narcissism and support for military aggression is likely to be mediated by
perceived threat to the in-group.
In order to test the hypotheses, we performed the path analysis that tested a model
assuming that collective narcissism, national group identification, social dominance
orientation, authoritarianism, blind and constructive patriotism independently predict all
dependent variables. In addition, this model assumed that the relationship between collective
narcissism and preference for military aggression is partially mediated by perceived threat to
the in-group. Most research in social sciences confirm the direction of causality assumed in
this model suggesting that broader ideological orientations and basic in-group identification
constrain specific attitudes, such as opinions about the use of force in international relations
or perceived threat (rather than vice versa; see e.g. Cohrs, Moschner, Maes, & Kielmann,
2005; Duckitt, 2006; Duckitt & Sibley, 2006; Feshbach, 1994; de Figueiredo & Elkins, 2003;
Sidanius, Feschbach, Levin & Pratto, 1997).
The analyses were conducted using Lisrel 8.80 (Jöreskog & Sörbom, 2006). The data
were analyzed using maximum likelihood estimation. We ran all the analyses controlling for
age (centered at the sample mean) and gender (dummy coded on the -1/1 basis). Then we
deleted all non-significant links. Age, gender, national group identification and constructive
patriotism were dropped from the initial model since they did not significantly explain the
variance in the dependent variables. In addition, we allowed the indirect relationship between
blind patriotism and military aggression through perceived threat suggested by model
modification indices and consistent with the theory.
Collective Narcissism 19
The improved model has a very good fit to the data. The standardized path
coefficients for this model are displayed in Figure 1. This model was tested against an
alternative model in which the effects of collective narcissism were not taken into account.
The results indicate that the alternative model has worse fit to the data (Table 4). The
difference between chi-squares amounts to 16.53 (df = 3) and is significant (p < .001).
----------------------Insert Table 4 about here----------------
The improved model reveals that collective narcissism (b = .38; SE = .13; p < .01),
social dominance orientation (b = .34; SE = .11; p < .01), authoritarianism (b = .51; SE = .11;
p < .01) and blind patriotism (b = .32; SE = .12; p < .01) independently predict support for
military aggression. In addition, perceived threat from out-groups predicts support for
military aggression (b = .27; SE = .09; p < .01). Perceived threat partially mediates the
relationship between collective narcissism (IE = .05; p < .01) and blind patriotism (IE = .02; p
< .05) and support for military aggression. Collective narcissism (b = .34; SE = .07; p < .01)
and social dominance orientation (b = .18; SE = .06; p < .01) independently predict the
inability to forgive the wrongdoings of the out-groups. The inability to forgive is not related
to military aggression or the threat of aggression of others. Taken together the independent
and mediating variables account for approximately 45 % of the variance in military
aggression. Collective narcissism and blind patriotism account for 18% of the variance in
perceived threat. Collective narcissism and social dominance orientation account for 21 % of
variance in the inability to forgive.
----------------------Insert Figure 1 about here----------------
Discussion Study 1
The results of Study 1 establish the reliability and validity of the Collective
Narcissism Scale used with reference to a national in-group. In addition, the data from the
Polish validation sample indicate that the scale can be effectively used with reference to other
Collective Narcissism 20
social groups (e.g. religious, political, social class). The common characteristic that these
groups seem to share is the fact that they are realistic social groups (Reynolds, Turner &
Haslam, 2000) with high entitativity (Yzerbyt, Castano, Leyens & Paladino, 2000). The
results collected in three different countries (the American sample and Polish and British
validation samples) indicate that the Collective Narcissism Scale can be meaningfully used in
different socio- cultural contexts.
The results of the correlational analyses and path analyses confirm the divergent,
convergent and predictive validity of the Collective Narcissism Scale. They show that
collective narcissism is not associated with personal self-esteem but it is related to variables
that indicate identification with a national group, high and uncritical positive attachment to a
national group (blind patriotism), belief in its greatness and superiority (social dominance
orientation, especially group based dominance component) and attachment to its authorities
(right wing authoritarianism).
Moreover, collective narcissism predicts aggressiveness and support for violence in
intergroup relations, a tendency to perceive threat from out-group aggression and
unwillingness to forgive out-groups for wrongs done to an in-group in the past. The results
reveal also that the relationship between collective narcissism and out-group aggression is
partially mediated by perceived threat to the in-group from the aggression of others. These
results provide a preliminary support for the assumption that the link between collective
narcissism and intergroup aggressiveness is mediated by perceived threat to the in-group and
its positive image. Most importantly, the results indicate that collective narcissism has
predictive value over and above the contribution of related variables such as blind patriotism,
social dominance orientation and right wing authoritarianism.
While the results of Study 1 confirm the convergent and predictive validity of the
Collective Narcissism Scale, the verification of its divergent validity should be treated as
Collective Narcissism 21
preliminary. Although, the results show that collective narcissism is different from personal
self-esteem, it is vital to demonstrate that collective narcissism is not just a form of individual
narcissism. Thus, in Studies 2 and 3 we test the hypothesis that collective and individual
narcissism are separate, although positively related variables. Most importantly, the two
variables are assumed to predict different attitudes and behaviors. We also examine whether
that the Collective Narcissism Scale can be effectively used with reference to an ethnic
Study 2: Collective and Individual Narcissism, Interpersonal Aggressiveness and Intergroup
In Study 2 we test predictions regarding the relationships between individual and
collective narcissism and interpersonal and intergroup hostility. Collective and individual
forms of narcissism are expected to be positively but not highly related. Firstly, these
variables correspond to different levels of functioning of the self: individual and social (for a
discussion of the relationships between processes associated with individual and collective
self see e.g. Schopler & Insko, 1992). Secondly, the two forms of narcissism can develop
separately. They are also likely to have different effects on attitudes and behaviors. Individual
narcissists are chronically intolerant of criticism and doubts regarding the greatness of the
self and are likely to react with anger and hostility in interpersonal relations. They are likely
to find signs of provocation in behavior of others (Baumeister et al., 1996; Bushman &
Baumeister, 1998). Thus, we expect that individual, but not collective narcissism, will be
related to interpersonal aggressiveness.
The relationship between individual narcissism and intergroup negativity has rarely
been studied. The few studies into this relationship indicate that individual narcissism is
positively, although moderately, related to ethnocentrism (Bizmuic & Duckitt, 2008) and that
defensive personal self-esteem (which is related to individual narcissism) predicts ethnic
Collective Narcissism 22
prejudice (Jordan, et al., 2005; Kernis et al., 2005). We expect that when the common
variance of collective and individual narcissism is controlled for, only collective narcissism
will reliably predict intergroup aggressiveness. Collective narcissists are emotionally invested
in a grandiose image of their in-group and are on constant guard for perceived criticism or
disrespect towards an in-group. We expect that collective narcissism will be related to
negativity towards ‘typical’ out-groups with whom the in-group shares a history of mutual
grievances. In Study 2, we use the Collective Narcissism Scale in a sample of Black and
White British participants and we explore ethnic, rather than national collective narcissism as
a predictor of intergroup animosity.
Participants and Procedure
Study 2 was conducted among 92 undergraduate students of a British, London-based
university in early 2008. There were 52 women and 40 men aged from 18 to 49 (M = 28.80;
SD = 7.10). Forty eight participants identified their ethnicity as Black and 44 as White. The
age and gender distribution in both groups was similar. All participants were British citizens.
Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire in return for research participation credit.
Collective narcissism. (α = .82; M = 3.30; SD = .99) This was measured by the newly
constructed 9-item Collective Narcissism Scale scale. We asked participants to provide their
answer using a scale from 1 - “I strongly disagree” to 6 - “I strongly agree” while thinking
about their ethnic group. The maximum likelihood exploratory factor analysis and scree plot
indicated a one-factor solution that explained 46.57% of variance (eigenvalue = 2.79; no
other eigenvalues greater than 1).
Individual narcissism. (α = 91; M = 2.97; SD = .78) This variable was measured by
the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI, Emmons, 1987). Instead of the forced choice
Collective Narcissism 23
format, typically used while administering the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, we
employed a less time and space consuming approach and asked participants to respond using
a scale from 1 “not like me at all” – to 5 “definitely like me” to the items indicating individual
narcissism (following the successful application of this method in earlier studies; see Ang &
Yusof, 2006; Bazinska & Drat-Ruszczak, 2000).
Interpersonal aggressiveness. (α = .90; M = 2.15; SD = .88) This was measured by a
shortened version of the Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Perry, 1992) proposed by Bryant
and Smith (2001). This scale measures a tendency for physical and verbal aggression towards
other people as well as a tendency to get angry and hostile in interpersonal relations.
Pro-Black antagonism. (α = .83; M = 3.23; SD = .70) This variable reflects Blacks’
perceived relative deprivation in comparison with Whites and anti-White sentiment. It
consists of following items adopted from the measure of symbolic racism (Henry & Sears,
2005): “Over the past few years, Blacks have gotten less than they deserve from society”;
“Over the past few years, Whites have gotten more economically than they deserve”; (the
answers were provided on a scale from 1 – ‘I strongly disagree’ to 5 – ‘I strongly agree’)
“How much discrimination against Blacks do you feel there is in the UK today, limiting their
chances to get ahead” and “How much of the racial tension that exists in the UK today do
you think Whites are responsible for creating”; (the answers were provided on scale from 1 –
‘none’ to 5 – ‘a great deal’). In addition, participants responded to a statement: “Please
indicate which statement best describes your feelings?”. The answers were provided on a
scale from 1 – ‘strongly prefer White people to Black people’ to 5 – ‘strongly prefer Black
people to White people’ with a midpoint 3 – ‘like Black people and White people equally’.
The higher the score in this scale the higher the belief in Blacks’ relative deprivation and
preference for Blacks over Whites. Low scores in this scale indicate rejection of the belief
Collective Narcissism 24
that Blacks in Great Britain are disadvantaged in comparison with Whites and preference of
Whites over Blacks.
The correlations presented in Table 5 confirm that collective and individual forms of
narcissism are positively and moderately related. They also reveal that individual, rather than
collective, narcissism is significantly related to interpersonal aggressiveness but the
relationship between individual narcissism and pro-Black antagonism is non-significant (p =
.15). Collective narcissism is positively and significantly related to pro-Black antagonism and
positively but not significantly related to interpersonal aggressiveness.
----------------------Insert Table 5 about here----------------
Individual and Collective Narcissism and Interpersonal and Intergroup Negativity
In order to test the hypothesis that individual, rather than collective, narcissism
predicts interpersonal aggressiveness, we performed a multiple regression analysis using
collective and individual narcissism as predictors and interpersonal aggressiveness as the
criterion variable (controlling for age, gender and ethnic group). The analysis confirms that
only individual narcissism significantly predicts interpersonal aggressiveness (b = .52; SE =
.11; p < .001; F(5,86) = 5.92; p < .001; R
= .26; for collective narcissism , b = .02; SE = .10;
p = .85).
In order to test the hypothesis that collective, rather than individual, narcissism
predicts pro-Black antagonism, we performed a hierarchical multiple regression analysis
testing two models. In Model 1 we look at the first order effects of the ethnic group and both
forms of narcissism on pro-Black antagonism (controlling for age and gender). In the second
model, we test two interaction effects: between collective narcissism and the ethnic group and
between individual narcissism and the ethnic group. The dichotomous variables – gender and
the dummy variable for the ethnic group – were coded on a -1/1 basis. We test the hypothesis
Collective Narcissism 25
that collective narcissism will be positively related to the belief in Blacks’ deprivation and
animosity against Whites among Black participants and negatively related among White
participants. We expected no such relationships for individual narcissism.
The results for Model 1 reveal a significant first order effect of the ethnic group:
Blacks in Great Britain tend to believe in their group’s deprivation and prefer Blacks over
Whites, whereas Whites tend not to believe in Blacks’ deprivation and prefer Whites over
Blacks (b = -.46; SE = .08; p = .001; F(5,86) = 11.39; p < .001; R
= .398). The relationship
between collective narcissism and pro-Black antagonism is positive but not significant (b =
.11; SE = .07; p = .12). The relationship between individual narcissism and pro-Black
antagonism is negative and not significant (b = -.04; SE = .11; p = .89). The addition of the
interaction terms in Model 2 leads to a significant increase in the amount of variance
explained by the model (∆ R
(2,84) = .11; p < .001). Only the interaction between an ethnic
group and collective narcissism is significant (b = -.23; SE = .07; p < .001). In order to probe
this interaction we compute simple slopes for the relationship between collective narcissism
and pro-Black antagonism among White and Black participants according to a procedure
proposed by Cohen, Cohen, West & Aiken (2003). This analysis indicates that among Black
participants collective narcissism is related to belief in Blacks’ deprivation and anti-White
sentiment (b = .33; SE = .08; p < .001), whereas among White participants collective
narcissism is related to the rejection of belief in Blacks deprivation and anti-Black sentiment
(b = -18; SE = .10; p < .05) (see Figure 2).
----------------------Insert Figure 2 about here----------------
Discussion Study 2
Results of Study 2 indicate that although individual and collective forms of narcissism
are moderately and positively related, they predict aggressiveness on different levels of
individual functioning. Individual, but not collective, narcissism is related to a tendency to
Collective Narcissism 26
get angry and physically or/and verbally aggress against other people in interpersonal
relations. On the other hand collective, rather than individual, narcissism is related to pro-
Black antagonism. Thus, individual and collective narcissism do not account for the same
variance in intergroup attitudes. The results of Study 2 indicate the existence of dissociation
and tension between Blacks and Whites in Great Britain. These results corroborate earlier
findings of few studies that investigated this issue (e.g. Hodson, Hooper, Dovidio & Gaertner,
In Study 2 we used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory in order to assess all factors
of individual narcissism and used the aggregate measure in the analyses. However, recent
studies suggest that psychological entitlement - a pervasive sense that one deserves more
than others (Campbell et al., 2004) - may be the aspect of individual narcissism that is
responsible for most of its destructive social effects and its relationship with interpersonal
aggressiveness (Campbell et al., 2004). Therefore, in Study 3 we investigate the relationships
between collective narcissism, psychological entitlement and prejudice.
Study 3: Collective Narcissism, Personal Entitlement and Prejudice
In Study 3 we test the hypothesis that collective narcissism is a variable that is distinct
from a component of individual narcissism that inspired a separate domain of research that is
psychological entitlement. Psychological entitlement was demonstrated to relate to
unconstructive interpersonal behavior such as competitive choices in commons dilemma,
selfishness in romantic relationships, and interpersonal aggression following ego threat
(Campbell, et al., 2004). In Study 3 we test the assumption that collective narcissism and
psychological entitlement are positively correlated but only collective narcissism is related to
ethnic prejudice. More specifically, in a Polish sample we test the assumption that only
collective narcissism is associated with anti-Semitism.
Collective Narcissism 27
Participants and Procedure
Study 3 was conducted among 148 students of a large Polish university in early 2008.
Their ages ranged from 18 to 45 (M = 23.12; SD = 4.90) and there were 135 women and 13
men. Participants were asked to take part in an on-line questionnaire containing several
psychological measures in return for research participation credit and the possibility to
participate in a prize draw.
Collective narcissism. (α = .77 M = 3.27 SD = .67) The 9- item Collective Narcissism
Scale was used. We asked participants to think about their national group and provide their
answers using a scale from 1 - “I strongly disagree” to 6 - “I strongly agree”. The same
translation of the Collective Narcissism Scale as in the Polish validation study was used. The
maximum likelihood exploratory factor analysis and scree plot indicated a one-factor solution
that explained 30.41% of variance (eigenvalue = 2.74; no other eigenvalues greater than 1).
Psychological entitlement. (α = .83 M=3.59 SD=.99) This variable was measured by a
Polish translation of the 9-item Psychological Entitlement Scale proposed by Campbell et al.
(2004). Here and in all cases where no published version of the scale existed in Polish, items
were translated from English and back-translated by an independent social psychologist who
was also fluent in Polish, so as to ensure equivalence of meaning.
Anti-Semitic prejudice. (α = .71 M = 5.62 SD = 1.01) Prejudice against Jews was
measured using an adjusted Social Distance Scale adopted from Struch and Schwartz (1989).
Four items measured desirable social distance from persons of Jewish origin: ‘Would you like
a Jew to be your neighbor?’; ‘Would you like a Jew to be your friend; ‘Would you mind your
child playing with a Jewish child?’ (reverse coded), ‘Would you mind your child marrying a
person of Jewish origin?’ (reverse coded). Participants were asked to respond to the four
Collective Narcissism 28
items, using a scale from 1 - “Definitely no” to 7 - “Definitely yes”. The higher the number
the higher anti-Semitic prejudice it indicates.
Correlational analyses indicate there is a significant but low, positive relationship
between collective narcissism and psychological entitlement (r (147) = .18; p < .03). Most
importantly the results reveal that collective narcissism (r (146) = .33; p < .001), but not
psychological entitlement (r (146) = .07; p = .37), is related to anti-Semitism.
Collective Narcissism, Psychological Entitlement and Anti-Semitism
In order to confirm that only collective narcissism significantly explains the variance
in anti-Semitism, we perform multiple regression analysis in which collective narcissism and
psychological entitlement are included as predictors and anti-Semitic prejudice is a criterion
variable (controlling for age and gender). The results confirm that collective narcissism (b =
.66; SE = .16; p < .001; F(4,142) = 7.17; p < .001; R
= .168) but not psychological
entitlement (b = .07; SE = .11; p = .54) is positively related to anti-Semitism.
Discussion Study 3
Study 3 reveals that collective narcissism and psychological entitlement, an aspect of
individual narcissism associated with interpersonal aggressiveness, are positively, but not
strongly correlated. Moreover, Study 3 reveals that collective narcissism, but not
psychological entitlement, accounts for variance in intergroup attitudes. Thus, Study 3
replicates the results of Study 2 in a different cultural and social context using the Collective
Narcissism Scale with reference to a different social group. After confirming that collective
narcissism is not just a form of individual narcissism, in Study 4 we examine what kind of
feelings and beliefs about the in-group lie behind collective narcissism.
Study 4: Collective Narcissism and Explicit and Implicit Collective Self-Esteem
Collective Narcissism 29
We use the theoretical accounts of individual narcissism in order to shed light on the
group based feelings that lie behind collective narcissism. Although the phenomenon of
individual narcissism has been discussed in psychology for long time, it has been recently
emphasized that it is a complex phenomenon that psychology has only started to untangle
(Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001). Most accounts of individual narcissism agree that a grandiose
self image and seeking external admiration are among its defining features. Thus, individual
narcissism can be interpreted as personal self-esteem that is contingent on the approval and
validation from others (Crocker & Park, 2004). According to this account “narcissists put the
goal of self-worth above other goals and are caught up in the question of whether they are
worthless or wonderful” (Crocker & Park, 2004; p. 404). People with contingent self-esteem
feel a need to validate their self-worth in the domains on which the self-worth is contingent.
Thus, narcissists are motivated to monitor expressions of external approval and admiration
vs. criticism or disapproval of their self-image. Since people with contingent self-worth tend
to exaggerate failures and underestimate successes in the domains of contingency, the
acknowledgement of the in-group by others is never satisfactory (Crocker & Park, 2004;
Kernis, 2003; Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001). Narcissists quickly develop ‘tolerance’ to known
sources of social admiration and they are constantly on the lookout for the new signs of
disrespect and criticism (Baumesiter & Vohs, 2001; Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001; see also
Crocker & Park, 2004).
In addition, in a recent review Bosson et al. (2008) report that current, popular, social
and personality psychological account of individual narcissism (the ‘mask model’) suggests
that narcissists are motivated to seek external validation of their inflated self image because
their heightened self-esteem is accompanied by suppressed feelings of shame and low self-
esteem. This assumption has recently begun to be tested and the empirical evidence is mixed.
Several studies found that high level of individual narcissism is related to defensive, personal
Collective Narcissism 30
self-esteem (Jordan, Spencer, Zanna, Hoshino-Browne, et al., 2003; Jordan, Spencer, &
Zanna, 2003) or a discrepancy between explicit and implicit personal self-esteem (Bosson,
Brown, Zeigler-Hill & Swann, 2003; Kernis et al., 2005; Zeigler-Hill, 2006) both
operationalized as interaction of high explicit self-esteem (e.g. measured by the Rosenberg’s,
1956 classic self report scale) and low implicit self-esteem (e.g. measured by the Implicit
Association Test (IAT) proposed Farnham, Greenwald & Banaji (1999) or the Name Letter
Test (e.g. Kitayama & Karasawa, 1997). However, in their review, Bosson and colleagues
(2008) report meta-analyses of published and unpublished data revealing that the support for
the ‘mask model’ is not consistent. The authors suggest that both the theory of narcissism and
the assessment of implicit attitudes need refinement.
We propose that collective narcissism, analogously to individual narcissism, can be
seen as collective self-esteem that is contingent on admiration and acknowledgement from
others. Since the need for social admiration is never fulfilled, collective narcissism should
integrate high regard for the in-group with a belief that others do not sufficiently
acknowledge it. In Study 4, we test the prediction that collective narcissism is related to high
private (which reflects the positive regard of the in-group) and low public (which reflects the
belief that other people do not evaluate the in-group positively) collective self-esteem
(Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990; Luhtanen & Cocker, 1992). In addition, we test the prediction
that collective narcissism can be interpreted as high but ambivalent collective self-esteem.
We examine explicit and implicit in-group evaluations underlying collective narcissism
following the conceptualization of narcissism proposed by the ‘mask model’. We test the
hypothesis that collective narcissism is related to an explicit, highly positive evaluation of the
in-group combined with the lack of its positive evaluation on the implicit level. We expect
that the level of collective narcissism will be the highest among people who report high,
private collective self-esteem but at the same time, their implicit group esteem is low.
Collective Narcissism 31
Participants and Procedure
Study 4 was conducted among 262 students of a large Polish university in 2007. Their
ages ranged from 19 to 53 (M = 24.96; SD = 5.72). There were 239 women and 22 men
among the participants. In an online study, participants were asked to log into a secure
website and they were first asked to perform the adjusted IAT that measured their implicit
evaluative associations with Poland versus other countries. Next, they were asked to respond
to the 9-item Collective Narcissism Scale and the Collective Self-Esteem Scale. After
responding to all the measures, participants were thanked and debriefed. They were given a
research credit for their participation.
Collective narcissism. The Polish version of the 9-item, national Collective
Narcissism Scale (α = .84; M = 3.21; SD = .75) was used as in previous studies. The
maximum likelihood exploratory factor analysis and scree plot indicated a one-factor solution
that explained 44.23% of variance (eigenvalue = 3.98; no other eigenvalues greater than 1).
Collective self-esteem. The Collective Self-Esteem Scale (α = .85; M = 4.31; SD =
.81) (Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992) was used in order to measure this variable and its four
components using Member (α = .56; M = 4.64; SD = .96); Identity (α = .76; M = 3.58; SD =
1.17); Private (α = .85; M = 4.99; SD = 1.22) and Public Collective Self-Esteem Sub-Scales
(α = .79; M = 4.03; SD = 1.04). Participants were asked to think about their national group
while responding to the items.
Implicit national esteem. The web version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; see
Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz, 1998; Nosek, Greenwald & Banaji, 2005) measured
positive versus negative associations with Polish symbols versus symbols of other nations.
The test was constructed analogously to the implicit self-esteem IAT, where words associated
Collective Narcissism 32
with the self (e.g. me, I, mine) are contrasted with words signifying unidentified others (e.g.
he, they) (Bosson, Swann & Pennebaker, 2000; Farnham et al., 1999; Greenwald & Farnham,
2000; Pinter & Greenwald, 2005; see also Cunningham, Preacher & Banaji, 2001;
Cunningham et al., 2003; Lane, Mitchell & Banaji, 2003). In the IAT measure constructed for
Study 4, Polish symbols (e.g. flag, the outline of the map, typical sites) were contrasted with
similar symbols of other countries pre-tested as difficult to identify and unknown to typical
Polish students (e.g. Korea, Indonesia etc). The pleasant vs. unpleasant words were adopted
from Greenwald and Farnham (2000) following their successful application in earlier studies
in Poland (e.g. Maison & Mikolajczyk, 2003). Reaction times were measured when the
Polish national symbols versus foreign symbols were combined with pleasant versus
unpleasant words. The corrected d coefficient (d – 2SD) was calculated according to the
algorithm provided by Greenwald, Nosek and Banaji (2003) (M = .21; SD = .32; Minimum =
-.68; Maximum = 1.18). The greater the corrected d, the higher implicit national esteem
Correlational analyses show that collective narcissism is positively related to private,
identity and membership aspects of collective self-esteem. In other words, collective
narcissists hold a positive image of their group, they tend to think that their national in-group
is an important part of their identity and that they are good members of their group.
Collective narcissism is negatively related to implicit national esteem but this relationship is
non-significant (p = .46) (Table 6). None of the aspects of collective self-esteem is related to
implicit national esteem. The similar lack of a significant relationship between explicit and
implicit measures of attitudes has been often reported (Hofman, Gawronski, Gschwendner,
Le & Schmitt, 2005; Karpinski, Steinman & Hilton, 2005). Since implicit and explicit
Collective Narcissism 33
attitudes are formed and influenced by different processes, such discrepancies are likely to
occur (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006; Wilson, Lindsey, & Schooler, 2000).
----------------------Insert Tables 6 about here----------------
Collective Narcissism, Explicit Collective Self-Esteem and Implicit National Esteem
In order to test the hypotheses that collective narcissism is predicted by the
discrepancy between explicit and implicit national esteem and that it is predicted by high
private but low public collective self-esteem, we perform a two-step, hierarchical multiple
regression analysis looking at private and public collective self-esteem and implicit national
esteem as predictors and collective narcissism as the criterion variable (controlling for age
and gender). In Model 1 we test the first order effects of private and public collective self-
esteem and implicit national esteem. Based on the theoretical hypotheses, in Model 2 we add
the interaction of private and public collective self-esteem and the interaction of private
collective self-esteem and implicit national self-esteem
The results for Model 1 reveal significant main effects of private (positive) and public
(negative) collective self-esteem. Most importantly, the results for Model 2 indicate that the
first order effects revealed by Model 1 are qualified by two significant interactions: between
private and public collective self-esteem and between private collective self-esteem and
implicit national esteem. The interactions are significant and in the expected direction. The
addition of the interaction terms leads to a significant increase in the amount of variance
explained by the model (∆R
(2, 248) = .03; p < .01). After the interactions are included in the
equation the significant negative relationship between implicit national esteem and collective
In order to probe the interaction between public and private collective self-esteem, the
simple slopes are analyzed for the relationship between public collective self-esteem and
collective narcissism at one standard deviation below (for low level of private collective self-
Collective Narcissism 34
esteem) and one standard deviation above (for high level of private collective self-esteem) the
mean of private collective self-esteem according to the procedure proposed by Aiken and
West (1991). The analyses indicate that the relationship between public collective self-esteem
and collective narcissism is negative and marginally significant on lower levels of private
collective self-esteem (b = .04; SE = .03; p = .10), and it is negative and significant on high
levels of private collective self-esteem (b = -.08; SE = .02; p < .001) (Figure 3). In order to
probe the interaction between private collective self-esteem and implicit national esteem, the
simple slopes are analyzed for the relationship between implicit national esteem and
collective narcissism at one standard deviation below (for low level of private collective self-
esteem) and one standard deviation above (for high level of private collective self-esteem) the
mean of private collective self-esteem. The results reveal that the relationship between
collective narcissism and implicit national esteem is non-significant on low levels of private
collective self-esteem (b = -.001; SE = .03; p = .85), but it is negative and significant on high
levels of collective self-esteem (b = -.07; SE = .03; p < .05) (Figure 4).
----------------------Insert Figures 3 and 4 about here----------------
Discussion Study 4
The results of Study 4 confirm both hypotheses assuming the complex nature of
group-based feelings underlying collective narcissism. The results reveal that collective
narcissism is highest among people who hold their in-group in positive regard but at the same
time believe that other people do not share their positive view of the in-group. In addition, the
results indicate that collective narcissism is highest among people who express positive
beliefs about their in-group and, at the same time, reveal rather negative (or at least lack of
positive) implicit evaluation of the in-group’s symbols as compared with symbols of other
groups, which, we claim, indicates low implicit group-esteem. The latter results suggest that
the ‘mask model’ of narcissism can be extended into the intergroup domain. These results,
Collective Narcissism 35
however, should be treated as preliminary. Although they reveal the expected pattern of
relationships they have been obtained using at least one controversial measurement that is the
Implicit Association Test.
Although, the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; Greenwald
et al., 1998) has been successfully used in order to advance the theory of attitudes, stereotype
(e.g. Greenwald et al., 1998), prejudice (e.g. Dovidio, Kawakami, & Gaertner, 2002), self-
esteem and self-concept (e.g. Baccus, Baldwin, & Packer, 2004; Farnham et al., 1999;
Greenwald & Farnham, 2000; Greenwald et al., 2002; Schroder-Abe, Rudolph & Schutz,
2007; for recent review see Nosek, Greenwald & Banaji, 2007), it has been also suggested
that the probability for diagnostic inferences from IAT to attitudes may be quite low (Fiedler,
Messner & Bluemke, 2006).
We decided to use the modified version of the IAT in order to measure implicit
national esteem because the IAT as a measure of implicit self-esteem was used in numerous
studies that have demonstrated its satisfactory reliability and validity (e.g. Bosson et al.,
2000; Greenwald & Farnham, 2000; Schroder-Abe et al., 2007). The IAT was also used to
measure implicit personal self-esteem in the majority of studies relating discrepancy between
explicit and implicit personal self-esteem to individual narcissism. We constructed the
national group IAT measure and used the adjusted IAT score following the procedures and
precautions provided by the authors of the test (Greenwald & Franham, 2000; Greenwald et
al., 2003; Nosek et al., 2005; Pinter & Greenwald, 2005) in order to correct for possible
misinterpretations of the meaning of the score. We used this score to indicate implicit attitude
towards a nation, arguably in a way that may be questioned based on the argument of Fiedler
and colleagues (2006). In addition, it has been also noted that implicit measures of attitudes
such as IAT are context dependent and similar effects may not be obtained in different
national and historical context (e.g. Bosson et al., 2008). Thus, further studies using different
Collective Narcissism 36
methods of assessing implicit collective self-esteem are needed in order to replicate our
results and provide a reliable account of the relationship between collective narcissism and
implicit collective self-esteem.
After analyzing feelings characterizing collective narcissism and describing its
correlates and predictions in the intergroup context, in the last study reported here we test the
assumptions regarding the link between collective narcissism and intergroup aggressiveness.
Study 5: Collective Narcissism, Perceived Insult and Intergroup Aggressiveness
In Study 5 we extend predictions of Threatened Egotism Theory related to individual
narcissism to an intergroup domain and to collective narcissism. We test the assumption that
only collective narcissism, but not related variables such as right wing authoritarianism and
social dominance orientation, is associated with the perception of ambiguous out-group
behavior as an insult to the in-group and only collective narcissism is therefore related to
Collective Narcissism, Social Dominance Orientation, Authoritarianism and Aggressiveness
in an Ambiguous Intergroup Situation
We have already demonstrated that social dominance orientation, right wing
authoritarianism and collective narcissism have similar effects in an intergroup situation that
is openly competitive and conflictual (in the war on terrorism in Study 1). These variables
may, however, make quite different predictions in ambiguous situations in which the meaning
of the actions of an out-group is not clear. In Study 5, we look at effects of all three variables
in the context of recent developments within American-Mexican relationships, specifically
the construction of the wall along the Mexican-American border by the U.S. Intergroup
relations are not openly conflictual and the act of constructing the wall can be, but does not
have to be, interpreted as an insult to the in-group by Mexicans. In this context, social
dominance orientation, authoritarianism and collective narcissism may be associated with
Collective Narcissism 37
different perceptions of the intergroup situations and be related to different behavioral
People high on social dominance orientation are preoccupied with securing the
group’s position and maintaining a hierarchical social order. In the international context the
position of the U.S. is more prestigious and dominant than the position of Mexico. People
high on social dominance orientation may be motivated to protect this hierarchy and to react
positively to the dominant group, especially given that positive relations with this group can
advance the in-group’s position: the U.S., through commerce, provides an incentive to
Mexican economic and social growth. Authoritarians are concerned with the security of the
social group and the stability of the social order. Thus, people high on right wing
authoritarianism may perceive a positive relationship with their immediate and powerful
neighbor as worth preserving since the latter guarantees in-group security. However, for the
collective narcissist, the assumed greatness of the in-group is never stable, and is always
threatened and endangered. No objective achievements can reduce preoccupations with
possible criticisms, disrespect or doubts. Thus, ambiguous actions of out-groups are likely to
be interpreted as threatening the image of an in-group, which is likely to be related to
Study 5 was conducted among 202 students of a large Mexican university in 2006.
Their age ranged from 17 to 33 (M = 20.10; SD = 2.21). There were 147 women and 56 men
among the participants. Data from two participants were not included in the analyses due to
unreliable answers (one answer circled throughout the questionnaire).
Collective Narcissism 38
Collective narcissism. The 9-item Spanish Collective Narcissism Scale was used (α =
.70; M = 3.85; SD = .77). The scale was translated from English to Spanish by a bilingual
translator and was back translated by a bilingual social psychologist in order to ensure the
equivalence of meaning of the items in both languages. The maximum likelihood exploratory
factor analysis and scree plot indicated a one-factor solution that explained 27.5% of
variance (eigenvalue = 2.48; no other eigenvalue above 1). Participants answered using a
scale from 1 – “totally disagree” to 7 – “totally agree” throughout the questionnaire.
Social dominance orientation. The 14-item Spanish Social Dominance Orientation
Scale (α = .87; M = 2.64; SD = .72) was used (Silvan-Ferrero & Bustillos, 2007; Pratto et al.,
1994). Two subscales were also constructed measuring the group based dominance (α = .84;
M = 3.27; SD = 1.12) and opposition to equality (α = .83; M = 2.01; SD = 1.07) aspects of
social dominance orientation.
Right wing authoritarianism. Participants were asked to respond to the items of the
Spanish translation of the abbreviated version of the original Right Wing Authoritarianism
Scale (see Altemeyer, 1988; McFarland, 2005).) used in Study 1 (α=.71, M = 3.16, SD = .87).
The same method of translation as in case of the Collective Narcissism Scale was used.
Perception of the construction of the wall as an insult. The following items were used
to construct this measure: “The construction of the wall along Mexican-American border by
the US is offensive for Mexico and Mexicans;” “The construction of the wall indicates the
lack of respect of the Americans towards Mexicans;” “The construction of the wall
demonstrates American arrogance” and “The construction of the wall demonstrates the
prejudice American have against Mexicans.” (α = .86; M = 5.52; SD = 1.61).
Perception of the U.S. as helpful to Mexico’s growth. (M =3.32, SD = 1.89). One item
was used to measure this variable: “Thanks to the U.S., Mexico can export and grow”.
Collective Narcissism 39
Preference for destructive actions towards the U.S (M =4.57; SD = 2.27). One item
was used in order to measure preference for destructive actions against the U.S. was used
“Mexicans should boycott American companies and products on the Mexican market”.
The correlations presented in Table 8 confirm that the perception of the construction
of the wall as an insult is positively related to the proposition to boycott American
companies, whereas the perception of the U.S. as support for Mexican growth is negatively
related to this proposition. Collective narcissism is positively and social dominance
orientation and right wing authoritarianism are negatively related to the perception of the
construction of the wall along the American-Mexican border as an insult to Mexico and
Mexicans. Social dominance orientation and authoritarianism are positively related to a belief
that the commerce with the U.S. helps Mexico grow. The relationship between
authoritarianism and this belief is marginally significant (p = .052). Collective narcissism is
negatively related to this belief and the relationship is also marginally significant (p = .10).
Only collective narcissism is positively related to the proposition to boycott American
products and companies in Mexico as a response to the construction of the wall by the U.S.
Social dominance orientation and right wing authoritarianism are negatively related to this
Interestingly, the results reveal also that in the Mexican sample collective narcissism
and social dominance orientation and authoritarianism are not correlated, although the latter
two variables are positively correlated. In this socio-political context, the differentiation
between the group-based dominance and opposition to equality aspects of social dominance
orientation proved important. The two components of social dominance orientation are
significantly and positively correlated (r(199) = .36; p < .001) and only after the factors are
differentiated a weak, positive correlation between group based dominance and collective
Collective Narcissism 40
narcissism is found (r(198) = .14; p < .05). The correlation of collective narcissism with
opposition to equality is not significant (r(198) = .02; p = .82). The results of multiple
regression analysis that used the components of social dominance orientation as predictors
and collective narcissism as a criterion variable (controlling for age and gender) confirm that
collective narcissism is independently related to group based dominance (b = .13; SE = .06; p
< .03; F(4,192) = 2.92; p < .02; R
= .06) but not to opposition to equality (b = -.07; SE = .07;
p = .27).
----------------------Insert Table 8 about here----------------
Collective Narcissism, Social Dominance Orientation, Right Wing Authoritarianism and
Intergroup Aggressiveness in an Ambiguous Situation
In order to test the hypothesis that the perception of the construction of the wall as an
insult to the in-group mediates the relationship between collective narcissism and preference
for destructive actions against the out-group, we performed mediational analyses (Baron &
Kenny, 1986). In addition, using the same analyses we examine whether the relationship
between right wing authoritarianism and rejection of the boycott is mediated by the
disagreement that the wall is an insult to the in-group and whether the relationship between
social dominance orientation and rejection of the boycott is mediated by the perception that
the U.S. helps Mexico grow associated with this variable.
The analyses reveal that the positive relationship between collective narcissism and
support for the proposition to boycott American companies and products in Mexico is
mediated by the perception of the actions of the U.S. as disrespectful: IE = .24; Sobel z =
2.40; p < .02 ; Goodman’s z = 2.46; p < .01 (Figure 5).
----------------------Insert Figure 5 about here----------------
The negative relationship between authoritarianism and the support for the boycott of
American companies is mediated by disagreement with the notion that the construction of the
Collective Narcissism 41
wall is disrespectful towards Mexico and Mexicans: IE = -.15; Sobel z = -1.95; p < .05 ;
Goodman’s z = -2.01; p < .04 (Figure 6). The relationship between social dominance
orientation and opposition to boycotting American companies and products in Mexico is
mediated by the perception of the U.S. as helping Mexico’s national growth: IE = -.06; Sobel
z = -1.67; p < . 05; Goodman’s z = - 1.76; p < .05 (Figure 7).
----------------------Insert Figures 6 and 7 about here----------------
Discussion Study 5
The results of Study 5 confirm the predictions resulting from extending the
Threatened Egotism Theory (Bushman & Baumesiter, 1998; Baumeister et al., 2000) into the
intergroup domain and allow for an initial explanation of the link between collective
narcissism and intergroup aggressiveness. We assumed that since collective narcissists invest
in the grandiose image of the in-group, they demand its constant validation in intergroup
situations and are likely to react aggressively to perceived lack of acknowledgement,
criticism or insult. The results of Study 5 confirm that collective narcissism is related to
increased likelihood of interpreting intergroup situations as threatening the image of the in-
group. The perception of actions of the out-group as an insult to the in-group mediates the
relationship between collective narcissism and intergroup aggressiveness. These results
suggest that aggressiveness associated with collective narcissism serves retaliatory purposes.
Importantly, Study 5 reveals that social dominance orientation, right wing authoritarianism
and collective narcissism are related to sensitivity to different aspects of social situations and
different perceptions of that situation mediate their relationships with different choices of
In addition, the results of Study 5 confirm that collective narcissism is unrelated to the
opposition to equality aspect of social dominance orientation but it correlates positively with
its group based dominance component. This relationship, however, seems to be weaker in the
Collective Narcissism 42
Mexican than in the American sample in Study 1. Moreover, collective narcissism is
unrelated to right wing authoritarianism among the Mexican participants.
These results seem to corroborate earlier findings suggesting that the effects and
predictions of social dominance orientation and right wing authoritarianism are dependent on
social context (e.g. Dambrun, Duarte & Guimond, 2004; Guimond, Dambrun, Michinov &
Duarte, 2003; Lehmiller & Schmitt, 2007; Reicher & Haslam, 2006; Schmitt, Branscombe &
Kappen, 2003). More importantly, the finding that the relationship between collective
narcissism and group based dominance is stronger in a group of a higher international
position is consistent with earlier findings and the concept of collective narcissism. The level
of collective narcissism should be comparable in groups of different social standing; however
the level of group based dominance is typically lower among members of subordinate and
lower status groups (Jost & Thompson, 2000; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999; Sidanius, Pratto, van
Laar & Levin, 2004). Thus, the relationship between collective narcissism and group based
dominance can be expected to be weaker in the context of lower status and less dominant
The lack of correlation between collective narcissism and authoritarianism in the
Mexican sample may be due to the specific form that authoritarianism takes in the Mexican
context. It seems to be defined mostly by submission to strong, charismatic and idealized
leaders (caudillos; e.g. Garner, 1985) and less related to concern for in-group cohesiveness.
Since concern for group cohesiveness was the main assumed reason for the overlap between
the two variables, its lower importance in this context may explain the lack of the expected
relationship. Further studies are needed in order to examine the relationship between
authoritarianism and collective narcissism in different socio-political contexts.
Collective Narcissism 43
In this paper we introduce a concept of collective narcissism: an emotional investment
in an unrealistic belief about the greatness and prominence of an in-group. This concept is
proposed in order to help explain the capacity of positive group esteem to inspire out-group
enmity. Results from five large samples drawn from studies conducted in four different
countries representing diverse cultural and social contexts and using three different languages
confirm validity, one factorial structure and reliability the Collective Narcissism Scale
constructed in order to assess individual levels of collective narcissism.
Collective Narcissism and Intergroup Aggressiveness
Present results indicate that collective narcissism is a form of group esteem that is
reliably associated with intergroup bias and aggressiveness. This link is mediated by the
tendency to perceive the actions of other groups as undermining the positive image of the in-
group. Aggressiveness related to collective narcissism seems to be provoked by perceived
insult (Study 5) or threat to the in-group (Study 1). Apart from being related to retaliatory
aggressiveness in response to the image threat, collective narcissism is associated with
prejudice and intergroup negativity. We demonstrated that it predicts ethnic animosity
between Blacks and Whites in Great Britain and anti-Semitism in Poland. We propose that
since the sensitivity to criticism is chronic for collective narcissists, the out-groups with
which the in-group comes into frequent contact are likely to be perceived as constantly
harming and threatening the in-group. Since collective narcissists are not willing to forgive or
forget any insults or injustice done to an in-group by out-groups (Study 1), collective
narcissism is related to prejudice against out-groups with whom the in-group shares a history
of perceived mutual grievances and wrongdoings.
We argue that the concept of collective narcissism provides one answer to some of the
long-lasting questions of the psychology of intergroup relations: how do peoples’ feelings
and thoughts about their group shape their tendency to be aggressive towards other groups?
Collective Narcissism 44
And what kind of self-esteem leads to intergroup negativity? In this vein, results of previous
studies suggest that high (Aberson, Healy & Romero, 2000) and threatened (e.g. Fein &
Spencer, 1997) or defensive (Jordan et al., 2005) personal self-esteem predicts intergroup
bias. Other authors suggest that collective, rather than personal, self-esteem is responsible for
intergroup negativity (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990). Within this perspective, findings reveal
that high private (Rubin & Hewstone, 1998) or low public (Hunter et al., 2005; Long &
Spears, 1998; Long, Spears & Manstead, 1994) collective self-esteem predicts intergroup
We suggest that the effects of private and public and high and defensive collective self
esteem should be considered at the same time as predictors of inter-group negativity, and
collective narcissism provides a framework that integrates them. Collective narcissism is
related to inter-group aggressiveness because it increases sensitivity to signs of criticism or
unfair treatment in an intergroup context. The results reveal that collective narcissism is a
form of high but unstable collective self-esteem that needs constant, external validation, but
accepts no validation as sufficient. We found that collective narcissism is highest among
people who hold their in-group in high regard but believe that others do not recognize its
Moreover, our findings suggest that collective narcissism may be seen as an explicit,
positive regard of the in-group that is accompanied by unacknowledged doubts about the in-
group’s positive evaluation. These results provide intriguing, additional cues for
understanding of the nature of the relationship between collective narcissism and intergroup
aggressiveness. The present account emphasizes that collective, rather than personal,
threatened self-esteem is the best predictor of intergroup aggressiveness. We propose that the
perceived threat to the assumed greatness of the in-group may be chronic because, at least
partially, it may come from within, rather than outside. The unacknowledged doubts about
Collective Narcissism 45
the in-group’s greatness may motivate collective narcissists constantly to seek signs of
criticism or disrespect of the in-group. The habitual emotional reaction to such signs is anger
related to the tendency to punish those who undermine the greatness of the in-group. Thus,
intergroup aggression may be seen as a means of controlling external validation of the
positive image of the in-group. The interpretation of collective narcissism as discrepancy
between explicit and implicit collective self esteem has to be confirmed by future studies that
use different methods of assessing implicit attitude towards the in-group.
Importantly, collective narcissism predicts intergroup prejudice and aggressiveness
over and above other robust and powerful individual difference variables associated with
intergroup negativity such as social dominance orientation (Pratto et al., 1994; Sidanius &
Pratto, 1999), right wing authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1998) and blind patriotism (Schatz et
al., 1999) in a national context. In addition, present results indicate that the pattern of
relationships between collective narcissism, social dominance orientation, authoritarianism
and intergroup aggressiveness is dependent on the situational context and suggest that reasons
for aggressive responses associated with each variable are different. In the context of the war
on terror in Study 1, all three variables independently predict support for military aggression.
However, only the relationship between collective narcissism and the support for military
aggression is partially mediated by perceived threat to the in-group. In an ambiguous
intergroup situation (construction of the wall along the American-Mexican border by the U.S.
in Study 5), the three variables predict different perception of the situation and different
responses. Only collective narcissism predicts support for destructive actions towards the
U.S. and this relationship is mediated by the perception of the construction of the wall
alongside the Mexican-American border as threatening the image of the in-group.
Collective Narcissism 46
We derived the concept of collective narcissism from the theory of individual
narcissism following the assumption that people can be narcissistic not only about their
personal but also their collective identities. The present results confirm that although
individual and collective narcissism are positively associated, they are separate variables that
make predictions relevant to different levels of individual functioning. Most importantly,
collective narcissism explains a great deal of variance in intergroup antagonism that
individual narcissism does not account for. Investigation of whether and how the relationship
between individual and collective narcissism is shaped by cultural and situational contexts is
an important direction for further research.
We assume that cultural and socialization contexts that allow for the development of a
strong ego may enhance the positive relationship between individual and collective
narcissism. Specifically, a stronger relationship may be expected in highly individualistic
cultures, where the projection of perceived individual greatness onto social in-groups is more
likely (e.g. Lasch, 1979; see also Gramzow & Gaertner, 2005). In collectivistic cultures,
however, collective narcissism may be related to putting the in-group prior to the individual
self. Commitment to the in-group may be associated with the submission of individual needs
or goals. In such a context the relationship between collective and individual narcissism
should be weaker.
In addition, in social situations that increase collective, but not individual narcissism,
the link between both forms of narcissism should be, at least temporarily, weakened. For
example, narcissistic identification with an in-group is likely to be stronger in an intergroup
conflict, especially when a tendency to attribute prevalent importance to the in-group, its
survival, value and honor intensifies as the conflict escalates (e.g. Bar-Tal, 2006). A situation
of acknowledged fraternal deprivation is also likely to increase collective narcissism with
reference to the deprived in-group (Runciman, 1966). Studies indicate that in-group threat
Collective Narcissism 47
from unfavorable intergroup comparison and high in-group identification result in increased
affirmation of collective self (e.g. Branscombe, Schmitt & Harvey, 1999). The recognition of
the relative deprivation on the collective level is likely to result in a shared belief that the
esteemed in-group does not receive the treatment, respect or recognition it deserves. These
propositions require further empirical examination.
Other important questions that need to be answered by future studies are: To what
extend collective narcissism is a general tendency to form narcissistic attachment to social
groups people belong to? And whether narcissistic attachment can be evoked only by some
groups or experienced only in particular situations?
Collective narcissism can be seen as an individual difference variable, a general
tendency to identify with important social groups in a narcissistic way. It can be expected that
people may narcissistically identify with all social groups with which they share common
history. It is, therefore, more likely that they form narcissistic attachment to social groups that
have psychological entitativity, that is, a real, reified existence (e.g., national group, ethnic
group, religious group or political party; see Campbell, 1958; Keller, 2005; Medin & Ortony,
1989; Yzerbyt, Judd, & Corneille, 2004; see also Reynolds et al., 2000). It is less likely that
this tendency would apply to ad hoc created groups such as in minimal group paradigm tasks.
Some time is needed to establish that the favored in-group is not sufficiently appreciated by
others. However, it can be expected that groups that work together for certain amount of time
(e.g. students of a certain university; attendants to a certain course etc) can elicit narcissistic
The results presented in this paper provide a suggestion that people can
narcissistically identify with different realistic, social groups. In four studies participants
were asked to think about their national in-group while responding to the Collective
Narcissism Scale and in one study they were asked to think about their ethnic group. A
Collective Narcissism 48
validation study conducted in the Polish sample provides evidence that people can reliably
apply the Collective Narcissism Scale also to religious or political group or social class.
Further studies should examine collective narcissism in contexts of different social groups
and indicate which social groups are more likely to stir narcissistic sentiments and with what
Future studies should also establish, whether in certain context narcissistic
identification can be inspired by specific groups without generalizing to others. We assume
that there are social situations that are likely to induce narcissistic identification with a
specific social group but not necessarily with others (specific collective narcissism). As
mentioned above, intergroup conflicts may increase the narcissistic attachment. In such a case
the attachment is related to the particular in-group involved in the conflict but not to other in-
groups. Similarly, specific collective narcissism is more likely with reference to groups
experiencing fraternal relative deprivation and feeling powerful enough to acknowledge it
and act against it. In addition, socialization in certain socio-cultural contexts may emphasize
narcissistic identification with some groups rather than others: e.g. the national group in
nations struggling for sovereignty, the religious group among members of prosecuted
religions, the gender group in a society emphasizing divisions and hierarchical relations
between genders or the ethnic group among members of stigmatized ethnic groups. In
addition, rise in political rhetoric emphasizing social divisions and/or idealizing certain group
is likely to increase collective narcissism with respect to this group (e.g. nationalistic rhetoric
idealizing an ethnic majority as the only true representative of a nation). We suggest that
collective narcissism is likely to develop and flourish in social contexts that emphasize the
group’s greatness and uniqueness and induce downwards social comparisons.
Further studies are needed in order to determine whether collective narcissism is a
general attitudinal tendency, whether narcissistic identification is more likely to be formed
Collective Narcissism 49
with realistic in-groups and what social and cultural contexts encourage development of
narcissistic identification with specific social groups. Such studies will improve our
understanding of conditions increasing likelihood of intergroup aggression. Another
important extension of the present research should examine whether the habitual link between
collective narcissism and aggressiveness as a means of protecting the grandiose group image
can be broken. It is plausible that collective narcissists may resort to more constructive
strategies of protecting and improving the in-group image in threatening situations.
The present studies provide strong support for the hypotheses derived from the
concept of collective narcissism. However, they have several shortcomings that should be
considered. Firstly, in most of the samples, except from Study 2, there is a disproportionate
number of women among the participants. In all analyses we included gender as a control
variable and found no significant effect of gender. In addition, the results obtained in the
most balanced sample corroborate the results obtained in less balanced ones (e.g. studies 2
and 3). Although we do not have any theoretical reasons to assume that men and women
differ with respect to their individual levels of collective narcissism, future research should
use more balanced samples. Secondly, the present findings are based on university student
samples, which may not be representative of the population as a whole (Sears, 1986). We
agree that future studies should extend the investigation of collective narcissism and its
effects to different populations. However, it is worth noting that we found remarkably
consistent patterns of relationships in different socio-political contexts and different
Most importantly, all presented studies provide correlational data. Experimental
studies are especially needed in order to replicate the results confirming the extension of
Threatened Egotism Theory to social domains. These studies should analyze the direct
Collective Narcissism 50
influence of the criticism of or an insult to the in-group on aggressive responses of collective
narcissists. Further experimental studies should also test the prediction that collective
narcissists feel particularly threatened by perceived criticism or improper acknowledgement
of the in-group. Such feelings are related to group-based anger and a tendency to resort to
intergroup violence when there is a threat to the honor or good name of the in-group or when
the situation can be interpreted in terms of lack of respect and appreciation for the in-group.
Collective Narcissism 51
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The original Collective Narcissism Scale was translated from English to Polish by a
bilingual translator. It was then back translated by an expert in social psychology in order to
ensure the equivalence of meaning of items on both scales. The same method of translation
was used in all studies that used non-English speaking samples. In the British sample,
participants were asked to think about their national group while responding to the items. In
the Polish sample, participants were first asked to read the items of the Collective Narcissism
Scale and decide whether they could think of any group to which these items applied and then
respond to the items of the scale. Participants indicated 4 groups (Poles, Catholics, students
Collective Narcissism 69
of private university, groups of lower social status) to which the items could be meaningfully
Collective self-esteem comprises four facets that we assessed in Study 4: private, public,
identity and membership. The four facets of collective self-esteem are positively correlated.
In order to exclude the possibility that the predicted interactions between private and public
collective self-esteem and private and implicit collective self-esteem are affected by these
intercorrelations, other possible interactions between the four correlated facets, or interactions
between other facets and implicit national self-esteem, we performed a second hierarchical
multiple regression analysis that included all four aspects of the collective self-esteem and
implicit national esteem in Model 1 and all possible two way interactions of the five main
predictors in Model 2. The results for Model 1 show that collective narcissism is
independently predicted by private (positively) (b = .19; SE = .04; p < .001), identity
(positively) (b = .30; SE = .03; p < .001) and public (negatively) (b = -.13; SE = .04; p < .001)
collective self-esteem. The results for Model 2 indicate that the first order effects revealed by
Model 1 are qualified by two significant interactions: Between private collective self-esteem
and implicit national esteem (b = -.10; SE = .05; p < .05) and between private and public
collective self-esteem (b = -.09; SE = .05; p < .05) (F(17,245) = 12.06; p < .001; R
The addition of the interaction terms leads to a significant increase in the amount of variance
explained by the model (∆R
(10, 245) = .05; p < .01). No other interaction is significant.
However, after the interactions are entered to the equation the negative relationship between
collective narcissism and implicit national esteem becomes significant (b = -.24; SE = .11; p
Collective Narcissism 70
Items of the Collective Narcissism Scale with factors loading in Study 1 and British and
Polish validation samples
Item Study 1 British Polish
1. I wish other groups would more quickly recognize authority of my
.68 .77 .68
2. My group deserves special treatment.*
3. I will never be satisfied until my group gets all it deserves.* .67 .77 .63
4. I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it.* .66 .72 .59
5. It really makes me angry when others criticize my group.* .63 .58 .70
6. If my group had a major say in the world, the world would be a
much better place.*
7. I do not get upset when people do not notice achievements of my
.63 .73 .65
8. Not many people seem to fully understand the importance of my
.61 .66 .76
9. The true worth of my group is often misunderstood.*
10. I love my group almost as much as I love myself. .58 -- --
11. My group is extraordinary. .58 -- --
12. My group stands out positively among other groups. .52 -- --
13. I like when my group is a center of attention.
14. My group rarely fails.
15. People in my group are more attractive than others. .49 -- --
16. I want my group to amount to something in the eyes of the world. .39 -- --
Collective Narcissism 71
17. My group has all predispositions to influence and direct others.
18. If it only wanted my group could convince other groups to do
.30 -- --
19. My group has made significant contributions to humanity. .30 -- --
20. Other groups are envious of my group.
21. My group is a great influence over other groups.
22. My group never forgives an insult caused by other groups. .10 -- --
23. I am envious of other groups’ good fortune. .08 -- --
* items that formed the final Collective Narcissism Scale
Collective Narcissism 72
Fit indices for the CFA models for the Collective Narcissism Scale in Study 1 and Polish
Model df χ2 χ2/df RMSEA GFI AGFI NNFI CFI RMR
One factor model for 23
items scale (Study 1, N
231 780.23*** 3.38 .09 .79 .74 .61 .57 .08
One factor model for 9
items scale (Study 1)
27 86.09*** 3.19 .09 .93 .88 .90 .86 .04
Modified one factor
model for 9 items scale
added) (Study 1)
23 47.22** 2.05 .06 .96 .93 .94 .97 .027
Modified one factor
model for 9 items scale
added) (Polish validation
sample, N = 257)
22 42.21** 1.92 .06 .97 .94 .91 .95 .08
Note. The error covariances of items 5, 3, and 9; 2 and 8 were added in modified models.
** p < .01. *** p < .001.
Collective Narcissism 73
Correlations between collective narcissism, right wing authoritarianism, social dominance
orientation, two aspects of patriotism, national group identification, personal self-esteem and
threat, the inability to forgive and military aggression (Study 1, N = 263)
Measures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3. Right -wing
.38*** .33*** --
.58*** .53*** .52*** --
-.18** -.27*** -.45*** -.43*** --
6. Personal self-
.002 .03 .03 .001 .09 --
7. National group
.49*** .27** .33*** .45*** -.03 .08 --
8. Unforgivingness .43*** .37*** .23*** .36*** -.15* -.06 .16** --
9. Threat .40*** .28*** .23*** .34*** -.04 .05 .30*** .26*** --
10. Importance of US
.47*** .44*** .44*** .45*** -.33*** .10 .34*** .35*** .30*** --
11. Support for war
.49*** .45*** .45*** .54*** -.33*** .12+ .33*** .26*** .35*** .62***
*p < .05. **p < .001. ***p < .000.
Collective Narcissism 74
Fit indices for models of relationships between collective narcissism, social dominance
orientation, authoritarianism, blind patriotism and threat, the inability to forgive and military
aggression (Study 1, N = 263)
2.68 .08 .97 .93 .94 .98 .07
Collective Narcissism 75
Correlations of collective and individual narcissism, interpersonal aggressiveness and Pro-
Black antagonism (Study 2, N = 92)
Measures 1 2 3
1. Collective narcissism --
2. Individual narcissism
3. Interpersonal aggressiveness
4. Pro-Black antagonism .27** -.10 -.13
**p < .001. ***p < .000.
Collective Narcissism 76
Correlations of collective narcissism, aspects of collective self-esteem and implicit national
esteem (Study 4, N = 262)
Measures 1 2 3 4 5
1.Collective narcissism --
3. Public .07 .39*** .45*** --
4. Identity .54*** .30*** .45*** .26*** --
5. Implicit national esteem -.05 -.09 .06 .04 .05
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .001. ***p < .000.
Collective Narcissism 77
Multiple regression analysis of effects of private and public collective self-esteem and
implicit national esteem) on collective narcissism (Study 4, N = 262; controlled for age and
collective self esteem
Private collective self esteem .38*** .05 .51
Implicit national esteem -.04 .04 -.06
collective self esteem
collective self esteem
Implicit national esteem -.07+ .04 -.09
Public X Private -.09* .04 -.14
Implicit X Private -.08* .04 -.12
= .272 for Step 1; ∆R
= .04 for Step 2 (ps < .05)
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .001. ***p < .000.
Collective Narcissism 78
Correlations of the collective narcissism, social dominance orientation and right wing
authoritarianism intergroup attitudes and perceptions (Study 5, N = 200)
Measures 1 2 3 4 5
1. Collective Narcissism --
ocial dominance orientation
4. Wall as insult .18** -.22** -.14* --
5. USA helps Mexico grow -.10+ .16* .14+ -.09 --
6. Boycott .20** -.14* -.16* .43*** -.17*
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .001. ***p < .000.
Collective Narcissism 79
Figure 1. Structural equation modeling of the relationships between collective narcissism,
social dominance orientation, right wing authoritarianism, blind patriotism and threat, the
inability to forgive and military aggression. (Study 1, N = 263).
Figure 2. Relationship between collective narcissism (CN) and pro-Black antagonism among
Black and White participants (Study 2). *p < .05. ***p < .001.
Figure 3. Interaction effect of two aspects of collective self-esteem (CSE) on collective
narcissism (Study 4). ***p < .001.
Figure 4. Interaction effect of private collective self-esteem (CSE) and implicit national
esteem (INE) on collective narcissism (Study 4). *p < .05.
Figure 5. Indirect effect of collective narcissism via perceived disrespect on preference for
boycotting American companies (Study 5, N = 202): ** p < .01 *** p < .001.
Note. The entries are unstandardized regression coefficients with standard errors in
parentheses. The dotted line indicates path for simple regression (not controlling for
Figure 6. Indirect effect of right wing authoritarianism via perceived disrespect on preference
for boycotting American companies (Study 5, N = 202). * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.
Note. The entries are unstandardized regression coefficients with standard errors in
parentheses. The dotted line indicates path for simple regression (not controlling for
Figure 7. Indirect effect of social dominance orientation via perception of the US as help to
Mexican advancement on disagreement with boycotting American companies. (Study 5, N =
202). * p < .05.
Note. The entries are unstandardized regression coefficients with standard errors in
parentheses. The dotted line indicates path for simple regression (not controlling for
Collective Narcissism 80
Collective Narcissism 81
Support for Military
Inability to Forgive
Collective Narcissism 82
Low CN High CN
Black deprivation and preference of
Blacks over Whites:
b = .33***; SE = .08
b = -.18*; SE = .10
Collective Narcissism 83
Low Public CSE High Public CSE
Low Private CSE
High Private CSE
b = -.04; SE = .03
b = -.08***; SE = .02
Collective Narcissism 84
Low INE High INE
Low Private CSE
High Private CSE
b = -.07*; SE = .03
b = -.001; SE = .03
Collective Narcissism 85
Wall as Insult
Collective Narcissism 86
Wall as I
Collective Narcissism 87