Narcissists may think they’re better looking than the people around them.
But new myth-busting research suggests that they don’t actually like admiring their own beauty in any mirror they may stumble across.
In fact, those displaying clear signs of being extremely interested in themselves feel distressed when viewing their own mug shot, scientists found.
The findings, based on brain imaging scans, contradict what has long been thought, that narcissists rather enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror.
Austrian researchers behind the study, who used brain imaging technology, believe narcissists behave as such because of conflict in their self-image.
Those displaying clear signs of being extremely interested in themselves feel distressed when viewing their own mug shot, scientists found
Lead author Dr Emanuel Jauk, from the University of Graz, told PsyPost: ‘Narcissism is a topic of increasing interest to science and the public.
‘We think that our study can help raise awareness that narcissistic individuals are not simply “bad” people.’
Instead, he added that narcissism is more likely to be a way of expressing conflicts in self-related beliefs and feelings.
How was the study carried out?
For the study, 43 participants were quizzed. Slightly less than half of these displayed signs of narcissism, the others didn’t.
They were all shown pictures of themselves, their close friends and strangers while their brain activity was monitored.
MRI scans showed a negative effect when the narcissists were shown an image of themselves, researchers noted.
Brain activity was increased in the anterior cingulate cortex, which the scientists believe is linked to negative thoughts.
BOSSES WITH BIG EGOS GET SUED MORE
Bosses with big egos are worse for companies as they are more likely to get sued, research found last week.
Narcissistic chief executives are also more likely to trigger legal action and engage in protracted lawsuits, a Stanford University study suggested.
Bigheaded bosses are more likely to disregard expert advice and act irrationally – which can prove financially costly to a company’s fortunes.
The character traits of ‘grandiosity and overconfidence’ make cocky CEOs indifferent to losing lawsuits, and less likely to settle legal action.
However, writing in the journal Scientific Reports, they highlighted how the effects only applied to men – not women.
They suggested narcissists may struggle to comprehend negative opinions of themselves.
The researchers said more trials are needed to determine why they stumbled across the findings they made.
What is narcissism?
As a personality trait, narcissism can appear in two forms: grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism.
In both forms, however, ‘the dark side of narcissism’ will ultimately show up over time.
A much more extreme type of narcissism also exists, and it’s classified as a psychological disorder.
The largest American study of its kind concluded that around 6 per cent of the population suffers from narcissism in some form.
But British psychologists have previously estimated it to affect less than 1 per cent of the general population.