This group of people is more confident because of the pandemic

There’s a potent melodrama that defines younger generations in the US. So much so, narcissism, once considered a rare personality disorder, is sort of a given for those with bandwidth and opposable thumbs.

This feature of American youth hasn’t been hindered by a destructive pandemic. In fact, the social disorder enacted by COVID-19 may be bolstering it.

According to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, essential workers who occupy restaurant, grocery, and retail industries score higher on measures of narcissism since the beginning of the pandemic.

The authors contend that posting to platforms like Facebook and Instagram increased their narcissistic feelings in the moment.

“We studied essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that trait narcissists would communicate more about their work during the pandemic because their work elevated their status to “hero” and provided an opportunity to shine,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “We found evidence of this for grandiose, but not vulnerable narcissism. Second, we hypothesized that sharing about work would be associated with increases in state narcissism. Results supported this for state grandiose narcissism with mixed evidence for state vulnerable narcissism. Perceiving validation from others was associated with higher state grandiose narcissism and self-esteem, as well as lower vulnerable narcissism in one sample.”

The authors began their research with two online studies: One worldwide and one limited to the US.

Participant were tasked with completing measures of narcissism before reporting on how much they shared with others about their work.

Consistently, those who scored higher on grandiose narcissism were more likely than others to share acheivements from their work on social media and in person.

Not all of the conclusions revealed in the new report paint the study sample in a negative light. It’s a matter of degrees.

Further anasyis showed that there were two distinct kinds of narcisism at work. Communal narcissists, which denotes those who think they are better than others at being useful tended to agree with the following: “I will be known for the good deeds I will have done.”

Agentic narcissists on the other hand aredescribes those who tend to agree with the following: “I will usually show off if I get the chance.”

The authors went on to reveal that essential workers on the whole are experiencing a greater sense of self worth in reaction to their role in stabling the economy.

Even if the larger majority is motivated by self-preservation (rent, food, shelter) they are routinely putting themselves at risk during trubulant times.

“The word ‘hero’ is a trigger for narcissists,” explained Amy Brunell, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University Mansfield campus in a media release. “Having their work elevated to hero status provides them with an opportunity to shine in front of others and feel even better about themselves. It is easy to see why people who score higher on communal narcissism would enjoy being known as an essential worker and want to share their experiences on Facebook and Instagram, Brunell said. They think they are the best at being helpful and caring for others. The pandemic gave them a chance to stand out.”

Agentic narcissists don’t usually like to share the spotlight, but they likely thrived from the attention and the status boost they received from being called a “hero,” the authors contiuned

“That’s why they likely shared about their work. Their ‘hero’ status gave them a way to feel admired and distinct from others,” she said.