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Origins of narcissism in children

Origins of narcissism in children
Origins of narcissism in children
Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age.
0027-8424
3659-3662
Brummelman, Eddie
b35dff27-28b1-4184-ab81-da7815676194
Thomaes, Sander
e1f18e0d-c3e8-4d10-af32-8d26b4f8feea
Nelemans, Stefanie A.
fdecc52a-e523-4f32-9526-a657ecf43c9c
Orobio de Castro, Bram
ffd0ea77-8182-4d7c-9a07-0fe7704d8d95
Overbeek, Geertjan
5ae7d599-0806-4df4-b63b-26bf6b1c37f0
Bushman, Brad J.
a2cf536d-852f-4708-8cf2-ac7f4fab5042
Brummelman, Eddie
b35dff27-28b1-4184-ab81-da7815676194
Thomaes, Sander
e1f18e0d-c3e8-4d10-af32-8d26b4f8feea
Nelemans, Stefanie A.
fdecc52a-e523-4f32-9526-a657ecf43c9c
Orobio de Castro, Bram
ffd0ea77-8182-4d7c-9a07-0fe7704d8d95
Overbeek, Geertjan
5ae7d599-0806-4df4-b63b-26bf6b1c37f0
Bushman, Brad J.
a2cf536d-852f-4708-8cf2-ac7f4fab5042

Brummelman, Eddie, Thomaes, Sander, Nelemans, Stefanie A., Orobio de Castro, Bram, Overbeek, Geertjan and Bushman, Brad J. (2015) Origins of narcissism in children. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (12), 3659-3662. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1420870112). (PMID:25775577)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 9 March 2015
Published date: 24 March 2015
Organisations: Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377811
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377811
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 259c739f-3027-4e16-bee2-ba8234774543

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Date deposited: 25 May 2016 16:00
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 20:57

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