The framework of self-esteem: Narcissistic subtypes, positive/negative agency, and self-evaluation

  • Elke RohmannEmail author
  • Julia Brailovskaia
  • Hans-Werner Bierhoff


The relation between narcissism, agency, and self-esteem was comprehensively investigated by taking two subtypes of narcissism (grandiose and vulnerable) and two subtypes of agency (positive and negative) into account. In accordance with the Extended Agency Model by Campbell and Foster (2007), we proposed the relation between grandiose narcissism and self-esteem would be mediated by both positive and negative agency. Furthermore, we assumed both subtypes of agency would mediate the relation between vulnerable narcissism and self-esteem. The sample, which was obtained by an online survey, included 323 participants (218 female, 105 male, age: M = 25.99, SD = 7.00). Validated measures of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, positive and negative agency, and self-esteem were administered. Hypotheses tests were based on the parallel multiple mediators model. Results showed that grandiose narcissism was positively correlated with self-esteem via the mediating influence of high positive agency. In contrast, grandiose narcissism negatively predicted self-esteem via the mediating influence of high negative agency. Vulnerable narcissism was negatively correlated with self-esteem via the mediating influence of both low positive agency and high negative agency. Results extend prior research in important ways by highlighting positive agency as the primary mediator, and negative agency as the secondary mediator, between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism on the one side and self-esteem on the other side.


Extended agency model Grandiose narcissism Vulnerable narcissism Positive agency Negative agency Self-esteem 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the local ethical committee of the Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, on November 14, 2017.

Informed Consent

The data were obtained by an online study. Participants gave their online informed consent.

Declarations of Interest


Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social PsychologyRuhr University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Mental Health Research and Treatment CenterRuhr University BochumBochumGermany

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