Narcissists happier, less stressed, more “mentally tough”

Do you have a personality that’s mentally tough, less inclined to stress, and less vulnerable to depression? You’re not a pro athlete – you may be a narcissist.

That’s according to new research led by Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland. Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou, the Director of the InterRRaCt Lab in the School of Psychology at Queen’s, has published two papers on narcissism and psychopathology in Personality and Individual Differences and European Psychiatry.

Narcissism doesn’t have to be viewed as a bad thing, Dr. Papageorgious said. “There are two main dimensions to narcissism – grandiose and vulnerable,” he said. “Vulnerable narcissists are like to be more defensive and view the behavior of others as hostile, whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an overinflated sense of important and a preoccupation with status and power.”

Narcissism has thrived, he said. “What this research has questioned is – if narcissism, is indeed socially toxic, why does it persist and why is it on the rise in modern societies?”

The papers include three independent studies involves over 700 adults total and show the positive sides of narcissism.

Dr. Papageorgiou said: “The results from all the studies that we conducted show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components of mental toughness, such as confidence and goal orientation, protecting against symptoms of depression and perceived stress.”

“This work promotes diversity and inclusiveness of people and ideas by advocating that dark traits, such as narcissism, should not be seen as either good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that may be beneficial or harmful depending on the context.”

Narcissism’s positive outcomes have also been described by other experts as positive, but in “limited ways.”  An article in Psychology Today lists each of the narcissist’s upsides – charm, persuasiveness, overachieving – followed by those traits’ dark underbelly: superficiality, manipulation, and egocentrism, for example.

Make sure to check out the words that experts use when talking about narcissists if you think you have one in your life and just don’t know how to decode the behavior that you’re experiencing.