If you have trouble with this at work, you may be a narcissist

Leaders are often described as displaying certain narcissistic traits, but there are certainly qualities that can be harmful to any workplace, according to a new study.

Research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that grandiose narcissist —or people that are overconfident and rely on their own intuition in making decisions — are more likely to make bad decisions due to their overconfidence and inability to collaborate with advice from others.

The study looked at two separate studies. The first consisted of 252 Americans where they were assessed a test on decision making after being presented a scenario in which they were to acquire a company. Respondents were asked how much they should offer based on experts providing estimates, which researchers observed in how much time and how well they worked with others.

No surprise, those that demonstrated higher levels of narcissism were quick to make decisions and spent less time consulting with experts.

“Respondents who were more confident and saw experts as less useful were also more likely than those lower on these dimensions to make an incorrect choice,” the researchers wrote. “It was not narcissism per se that led to the increased probability of making an incorrect choice but the effects of narcissism on how respondents accessed information. Having made an incorrect decision, narcissists were also shown to be more likely to externalize the blame for their decision and to remain confident even after having made an incorrect choice.”

The second study dealt with a smaller sample size where participants were asked to estimate 10 dates of historical events in American history. In this study, respondents were advised on responses provided by an expert described as a graduate student in history and they were able to adjust their answers if they chose to. The expert provided accurate answers.

The respondents, 249 in total, found that narcissists didn’t value the experts advice and were less likely to change their answers. Again, their own confidence trumped collaborative efforts.

It’s interesting to consider these studies in regards to collaboration inside the office and dealing with people who are perceived as demonstrating narcissism. It certainly appears as damaging.

There are two types of narcissism that are often analyzed by professionals: vulnerable and grandiose. Psychology Today says that both forms have self-centeredness as its core, but both express self-absorption differently.

Per Psychology Today:

Grandiose narcissism is characterized by extraversion, low neuroticism and overt expressions of feelings of superiority and entitlement. Owing to their grandiosity, they believe that they are somehow above the rest of us, and that they, therefore, are entitled to special treatment. In their view, our job is to cater to their needs. They are true egomaniacs.

Vulnerable narcissism reflects introversive self-absorbedness, high neuroticism, hypersensitivity even to gentle criticism, and a constant need for reassurance. As Dr. Craig Malkin points out in Rethinking Narcissism, vulnerable narcissists “are just as convinced that they’re better than others as any other narcissist, but they fear criticism so viscerally that they shy away from, and even seem panicked by, people and attention” (p. 34).