Archive for September, 2006

Study finds celebrities really are more narcissistic

Scientific studies of celebrity personalities are really hard to come by, but a new “first of its kind” survey study confirms what most people would expect, that celebrities are indeed more narcissistic than average. Erstwhile fans of the radio call-in show, Loveline (such as myself) will be familiar with the well-credentialed co-host Dr. Drew. He decided that his steady stream of celebrity guests would make a good research sample. He gave them, as well as a control group of MBA students, the 40-question Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) to fill out. The LA Times reports on the research and covers the main points, but the original article1 has some fun details the Times missed. Some interesting results overall:

  • Celebrity average NPI score was 17.8, compared with the US average of 15.3 (p<0.001).
  • Among celebrities, reality TV personalities are the most narcissistic, followed by comedians, actors, then musicians. The Times notes that musicians, the most-skilled group, are least narcissistic, while reality TV stars, the least-skilled group, are most narcissistic. Young and Pinsky hint that the rampant narcissism of reality TV personalities may put upward pressure on the narcissism of the general public, if people take the behavior of those personalities to be normal.
  • Female celebrities are more narcissistic than male celebrities, contrary to MBA students and the general population, where males are more narcissistic.
  • MBA students (especially male MBA students) are more narcissistic than the general population (p<0.05).
  • Narcissism did not vary with years of experience in the entertainment industry or with years of experience in the business world. This suggests that innately more narcissistic people choose the fields as opposed to people becoming more narcissistic as they work in them.

The Times also has an online version of the NPI. Somewhat to my surprise, I turned out to be less narcissistic than the general population. That may be related to the distinction between egotism and narcissism. The Times paraphrases the researchers: “Narcissistic people have low self-esteem and are compensating for it; egotists genuinely love themselves.”

  1. S. Mark Young and Drew Pinsky. Narcissism and celebrity. Journal of Research in Personality. Volume 40, Issue 5 , October 2006, Pages 463-471. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2006.05.005 []

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