Narcissism in the context of stress: the influence of learned information on attitudes and stress outcomes

Teresa Gomes Arrulo-Clarke*, Michail Doumas, Kostas A. Papageorgiou

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous research indicates narcissism can aid stress management. Nonetheless, its common perception and dissemination as socially aversive may hamper its acknowledgment and use as an asset in the context of stress. This experimental study investigated the effects of receiving positive or negative information (i.e., prompts) about narcissism in the context of stress on attitudes towards this trait’s association with stress. It also assessed individuals’ experiences of narcissism’s stress-coping properties when one believes themselves to be a high narcissism scorer, via an online survey. Hundred and five adults (Mage = 32.0; 22–64 years) completed measures of state-stress, music preferences, and narcissism. They were then randomly assigned to either the positive or negative prompt groups, being shown information highlighting the positive or negative impact of narcissism on stress management, respectively. Participants were then informed they scored above average on narcissism, despite their actual questionnaire scores, and undertook a stress-inducing procedure. Self-reported stress, implicit and explicit attitudes were measured pre- and post-prompt presentation. Results showed that, while prompts did not influence attitudes nor stress outcomes, individuals displayed neutral implicit attitudes towards narcissism’s association with stress across measurement timepoints. These findings suggest that people’s attitudes towards narcissism in the context of stress have not been deteriorated by this trait’s predominant negative depiction outside this context. Therefore, the dissemination and establishment of narcissism as an asset for stress-coping may be received by the general population with less resistance than anticipated.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date16 Dec 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 Dec 2022


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