Narcissists and Their Need to Be Admired: They now tend to go into politics—and also journalism?

From a story headlined “Narcissists May Be More Politically Active”:

In a series of studies, researchers found that people with higher levels of narcissism—a trait combining selfishness, entitlement, and a need for admiration—were also more likely to participate in politics.

This could include contacting politicians, signing petitions, donating money, and voting in midterm elections, among other things.

Peter Hatemi, professor of political science at Penn State, says the findings in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology may give insight into how and why certain political candidates succeed in elections. . . .

“If people who are more interested in their own personal gain and status take a greater part in elections, then we can expect candidates to emerge who reflect their desires—narcissism begets narcissism.”

According to the researchers, previous work has shown that higher levels of narcissism are linked with behaviors that could be harmful to functioning democracies—for example, shifting focus from civic responsibility toward a person’s own self-interest and gratification. Higher narcissism in the general public has been connected with more conflict and civic strife, in addition to less cooperation, compromise, and forgiveness. . . .

The researchers found that narcissism was associated with higher participation in early politics, like contacting decision makers and publicizing their opinions. People with higher narcissism were also more likely to vote in midterm elections. The researchers says that because people with higher levels of narcissism are literally speaking out more, their voices could be more likely to be heard. . . .

“The general picture is that individuals who believe in themselves, and believe that they are better than others, engage in the political process more,” Hatemi says. “At the same time, those individuals who are more self-sufficient are also less likely to take part in the political process. This means that policies and electoral outcomes could increasingly be guided by those who both want more but give less.”

Hatemi says that while it’s difficult to pinpoint a solution, finding ways to increase political engagement among a more diverse electorate while reducing an overrepresentation of narcissism would be a good start.

“Successful democratic functioning requires trust in institutions, efficacy, and engagement in the democratic process,” Hatemi says. “If those who are more narcissistic are the most engaged, and the political process itself is driving up narcissism in the public, in my opinion, the future of our democracy could be in jeopardy.”

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