The University at Buffalo has completed a study that featured a population of over 475 000 participants, with data collected from over 355 journals over a span of 30 years, which has revealed that in fact, men are more narcissistic than women.
Before you start shaking your head in disagreement, it’s important to understand the true definition of narcissism.
When most of us think “narcissist”, that person with an endless stream of selfies on their Instagram account comes to mind, or that friend who can only talk about themselves. We think of the Kim Kardashian-types in our lives.
. . . researchers reported that they were unable to find any definitive biological connections between their findings and maleness
But the definition of a narcissist goes much further than just vanity and an uncomfortable level of self-obsession. According to the University at Buffalo, the definition is broken up into three parts, namely: leadership/authority, grandiose behaviour/exhibitionism, and entitlement.
“Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behaviour and aggression. At the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader” said lead author of the study, Emily Grijalva.
The study showed that men were more likely to show a desire for power and authority over others, and were more willing to do whatever it took to attain this than women were.
The second aspect of the narcissist has to do with the grandiose, and this is what we all commonly perceive to be narcissism – the more outward expression of it – the vanity. On this particular point, men and women were found to be equal.
The third and last aspect of narcissism deals with entitlement. Even more than feeling entitled to privileges that they believe they deserve, or are “owed”, men were found to be more likely to exploit others to get what they felt they were entitled to.
It’s interesting, however, to note that the researchers of the study reported that they were unable to find any definitive biological connections between their findings and maleness. They did however find an evolutionary element in that men who were found to be more narcissistic were more likely to pass on their narcissist gene to their children. It would seem that the root cause of this excessive narcissism in men are gender norms that have been constructed by society.
“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face a backlash for deviating from society’s expectations. In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behaviour.” said Grijalva.
She is speaking a truth that’s a reality the world over. Men who show narcissistic behaviour are often seen as confident and manly, and are often praised for this, while women who might show the same level of narcissism face heavy criticism.
The research suggested that this might be one of the major reasons for the shortage of women in leadership roles.