Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is believed to be co-authored by genetic and environmental factors.
Although men are more likely to be diagnosed with NPD compared to women, the instructive traits exist on a continuum--meaning healthy individuals can develop one or more in order to secure a desired outcome.
A quick scan of history’s busiest minds elevates anti-social behavior in this respect and a new paper published in the journal, Psychological Reports identities the mechanisms.
The paper, “How Need for Power Explains Why Narcissists Are Antisocial,” was co-authored by Megan Brooke Alexander, Jonathan Gore, and Caitlin Estep, and comprises two separate studies.
“To date, no research has examined need for power as a reason why narcissists engage in antisocial behavior. The purpose of the current research is to examine need for power as a potential mediating factor between narcissism and antisocial behavior,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “Participants (n =408) of study one consisted of undergraduate students who completed an online survey focusing on narcissism, need for power, and aggression. Participants (n =323) of study two consisted of adults who completed an online survey through Mechanical Turk. Study 2 focused on seven types of narcissism, four types of need for power, need for influence, and lifetime criminal behavior.”
It’s important to note that the study’s authors drew a distinction between anti-social behaviors related to self-isolation, and those “that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others.”
In both groups, participants who scored high on narcissism assessments and expressed a desire for power in a follow-up analysis were more likely to demonstrate NPD aggressively.
In the second group, the majority of the seven forms of narcissism indexed in the paper’s abstract yielded a positive correlation with criminal behavior.
The researchers determined that the desire to “resist subordination” might actually mediate this correlation more than the desire for power itself. In other words, to avoid being dominated by others narcissists they will rely on antagonistic modus.
A sense of entitlement, an inflated sense of self-importance, the need for control, and a disregard for the well-being of others blind the subject to the depths of their aggressive behavior.
“People with narcissism do not like to be submissive to others. They like to be in control of others. Therefore, some will go to the extreme to be in control, meaning they will commit antisocial behaviors. This research and future research could assist in the treatment and rehabilitation of such individuals,” Alexander told explained in PsyPost.
Of course, none of the participants involved in either analysis were convicted felons so the likelihood of criminal outcomes coming to fruition can only be speculative.
Similarly, no clinical populations were included in the analysis. Participants who score high in narcissism might not produce the same results as subjects diagnosed with the disorder by a medical professional.
“One big question that remains is that need for power did not mediate the association between exploitative narcissism and criminal behavior. The question is why? The answer could be that there is a different explanatory factor between the link, maybe like hormonal conditions rather than motivational conditions. Future research should address this question,” Alexander concluded.