Does narcissism fade the older we get?
Narcissism doesn’t reside in the texture of people’s skin, but a recent study suggests that it starts fades as people get into their 40s.
Nevertheless, the degree to which narcissism declines varies from person to person and can be related to their relationships and work, the researches noted.
“findings should bring comfort to those who are concerned that young people are problematically narcissistic,” said Brent Roberts, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois and study co-leader of the study.
“With time, it seems most people turn away from their earlier narcissistic tendencies.”
Narcissism is a personality trait that causes a person to deeply believe they’re smarter, better-looking, more able to accomplish great things and more deserving than other people.
The study involved 237 people whose levels of narcissism – things like vanity, belief in their leadership skills, and sense of entitlement – were assessed at 18-years of age when they were freshmen at the University of California, Berkley, and then again at the age of 41.
Most of the people surveyed showed a decline in narcissism with age. A mere 3 percent had an increase and some had the same levels of narcissism both at 18 and at 41, the research showed.
In addition, each of the narcissistic aspects examined in the study had specific impacts on participants’ lives.
For instance, those who had stronger levels of vanity at 18 were more likely to sustain functional relationships and marriages, and more likely to be divorced by middle age. However, they reported healthier lives at the age of 41.
The people who felt the most entitled as youngsters reported bleaker life events and tended to have lower life satisfaction at 41.
The researchers believed that the leadership aspect of narcissism would naturally become better with age, but discovered that was not the case.
“We know from past research that another component of personality, assertiveness, tends to increase during this time of life,” Roberts said in a university news release.
“So, I thought it was reasonable to hypothesize a similar increase in the leadership facet. This either means the past research is wrong, or our read of the leadership component of narcissism is wrong — it may actually be more negative than we thought. We have to figure this out in future research,” Roberts added.
Another interesting discovery was that vanity appeared tightly associated with life events. For instance, it declined more in people who had strong romantic relationships and those with kids but declined significantly in those who had gone through more negative life experiences.
As per study co-leader Emily Grijalva, an organizational behavior professor at Washington University in Sait Louis, researchers
“also found that narcissistic young adults were more likely to end up in supervisory jobs 23 years later, suggesting that selfish, arrogant individuals are rewarded with more powerful organizational roles.
And “individuals who supervised others decreased less in narcissism from young adulthood to middle age — meaning that supervisory roles helped maintain prior levels of narcissism,” she added.
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