Narcissists are ‘mentally tough’, study claims

Narcissism could make you mentally tough: Study claims people with an over-inflated sense of importance are less stressed and not as vulnerable to depression

  • Queen’s University Belfast scientists reviewed three studies on narcissism
  • One type of narcissism – grandiose – appeared to increase mental resilience
  • The researchers said this could potentially offset symptoms of depression

Narcissism can lead to mental ‘toughness’, researchers believe.

Queen’s University Belfast scientists reviewed three studies on the personality trait, involving more than 700 people. 

One type of narcissism – grandiose – appeared to increase mental resilience, which can offset symptoms of depression.

People with this type of the trait, which often causes them to have an over-inflated sense of importance, also had lower stress levels. 

Queen’s University Belfast scientists reviewed three studies on the personality trait, involving more than 700 people (stock)

Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, study co-author, said: ‘There are two main dimensions to narcissism – grandiose and vulnerable.

‘Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behaviour of others as hostile.

‘Whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over-inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power.’

He added: ‘Narcissism is part of the “dark tetrad” of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism.’

The review of evidence on narcissism was published in the journals Personality and Individual Differences and European Psychiatry.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterised by a person believing there are special reasons that make them different, better or more deserving than others.

They may feel upset if people do not recognise their apparent achievements, and get upset if other people do not put their needs above their own.

But narcissists may also suffer low self-esteem and can be described as vulnerable, researchers warn.

Dr Papageorgiou added: ‘This research really helps to explain variation in symptoms of depression in society.

‘If a person is more mentally tough they are likely to embrace challenges head-on, rather than viewing them as a hurdle.

‘While of course not all dimensions of narcissism are good, certain aspects can lead to positive outcomes.

‘This work promotes diversity and inclusiveness of people and ideas by advocating that dark traits, such as narcissism, should not be seen as either good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that may be beneficial or harmful depending on the context.’ 


People who doubt the moon landings are more likely to be selfish and attention-seeking, according to a recent study.

Over the course of three online-based studies, researchers at the University of Kent showed strong links between the belief in conspiracy theories and negative psychological traits.

Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the team explained: ‘Previous research linked the endorsement of conspiracy theories to low self-esteem.’

In the first study, a total of 202 participants completed questionnaires on conspiracy beliefs, asking how strongly they agreed with specific statements, such as whether governments carried out acts of terrorism on their own soil.

Alongside this, they were asked to complete a narcissist scale and a self-esteem assessment.

The results showed that those people who rated highly on the narcissism scale and who had low self-esteem were more likely to be conspiracy believers.