Grandiose narcissism associates with higher cognitive performance under stress through more efficient attention distribution: an eye-tracking study

Vasilena Stefanova, Christoph Scheepers, Paul Wilson, Kostas A. Papageorgiou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Narcissism is a part of the Dark Triad that consists also of the traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Two main types of narcissism exist: grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Being a Dark Triad trait, narcissism is typically associated with negative outcomes. However, recent research suggests that at least the grandiose type may be linked (directly or indirectly) to positive outcomes including lower levels of psychopathology, higher school grades in adolescents, deeper and more strategic learning in university students and higher cognitive performance in experimental settings. The current pre-registered, quasi-experimental study implemented eye-tracking to assess whether grandiose narcissism indirectly predicts cognitive performance through wider distribution of attention on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices task. Fifty-four adults completed measures of the Dark Triad, self-esteem and psychopathology. Eight months to one year later, participants completed the Raven’s, while their eye-movements were monitored during high stress conditions. When controlling for previous levels of psychopathology, grandiose narcissism predicted higher Raven’s scores indirectly, through increased variability in the number of fixations across trials. These findings suggest that grandiose narcissism predicts higher cognitive performance, at least in experimental settings, and call for further research to understand the implications of this seemingly dark trait for performance across various settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0302644
Number of pages14
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume19
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 May 2024

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Self Concept
  • Cognition
  • Narcissism
  • Attention
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Male
  • Young Adult
  • Eye-Tracking Technology
  • Attention - physiology
  • Cognition - physiology

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