Research — 09 March 2015

An analyses of over three decades of data on 475,000 individuals suggests that men, on average, believe they are entitled to preferential treatment. University of Buffalo School of Management researchers examined 31 years of narcissism research and found that men consistently scored higher in narcissism across multiple generations, among all ages. The study is forthcoming in the journal Psychological Bulletin. “Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior, and aggression,” said lead author Emily Grijalva, Ph.D., assistant professor of organization and human resources. “At the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability, and the tendency to emerge as a leader,” she says. “By examining gender differences in narcissism, we may be able to explain gender disparities in these important outcomes.” The researchers examined more than 355 journal articles, dissertations, manuscripts, and technical manuals, and studied gender differences in the three aspects of narcissism: leadership/authority, grandiose/exhibitionism, and entitlement. They found that men were especially prone to feelings of entitlement, suggesting that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges. The second largest difference was in leadership/authority. “Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power,” Grijalva said. “But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption.” attractive-big-SS-202x269

In addition, the study looked at data from college students between 1990 and 2013, and found no evidence that either gender has become more narcissistic over time. Research has shown that personality differences, like narcissism, can arise from gender stereotypes and expectations that have been ingrained over time. The authors speculate that the persistent lack of women in senior leadership roles may partially stem from the disparity between stereotypes of femininity and leadership. “Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva said. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.” Future research could further investigate the social, cultural or biological factors that contribute to these gender differences.

This article and image first appeared Psych Central, 5 March 2015.

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