New research suggests the growing rate of narcissism in society could be linked with school achievement.
The findings come from research conducted by a group including Professor Yulia Kovas, Director of InLab at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Led by Dr Kostas Papageorgiou of Queen's University, Belfast, the study discovered that adolescents who score high on certain aspects of subclinical narcissism may be more mentally tough and can perform better at school.
In the study, 340 adolescent students, taking part in the Multi-Cohort Investigation into Learning and Educational Success experiment (MILES), were recruited from three different Italian high schools in the Milan Province. They took part in two assessment waves.
The research suggests that the relationship between narcissism and mental toughness could be one of the personality mechanisms that leads to variation in school achievement.
Professor Kovas said: "This is an exciting new study from an ongoing longitudinal project that emphasises the complexity of human personality. I am particularly happy to be involved in this study because it is led by two excellent researchers in Kostas Papageorgiou and Margherita Malanchini - both of whom were students of mine at Goldsmiths a few years ago."
Dr Papageorgiou explains: “Narcissism is considered as a socially malevolent trait and it is part of the Dark Triad of personality traits - narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.
“Previous studies indicate that narcissism is a growing trend in our society but this does not necessarily mean that an individual who displays high narcissistic qualities has a personality disorder. In our research, we focused on subclinical or “normal” narcissism. Subclinical narcissism includes some of the same features of clinical syndrome - grandiosity, entitlement, dominance, and superiority.
“If you are a narcissist you believe strongly that you are better than anyone else and that you deserve reward. Being confident in your own abilities is one of the key signs of grandiose narcissism and is also at the core of mental toughness. If a person is mentally tough, they are likely to embrace challenges and see these as an opportunity for personal growth.”