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Narcissism and Sensitivity to Criticism: A Preliminary Investigation

Abstract

Two studies investigated the connection between narcissism and sensitivity to criticism. In study 1, participants completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) and the Sensitivity to Criticism Scale (SCS) and were asked to construct and deliver speeches to be rated by performance judges. They were then asked whether they would like to receive evaluative feedback. Narcissism and sensitivity to criticism were mildly, but not significantly, negatively correlated and had contrasting relationships with choices regarding feedback. Highly narcissistic participants tended to seek (rather than avoid) feedback, whereas highly sensitive participants tended to reject feedback opportunities. Study 2 examined the relationship between sensitivity to criticism and both overt and covert narcissism. Those scoring high on the trait narcissism, as measured by the NPI, tended to be less sensitive to criticism, sought (rather than avoided) feedback opportunities, experienced little internalized negative emotions in response to “extreme” feedback conditions, and did not expect to ruminate over their performance. By contrast, participants scoring high on a measure of “covert narcissism” were high in sensitivity to criticism, tended to avoid feedback opportunities, experienced high levels of internalized negative emotions, and showed high levels of expected rumination. These findings suggest that the relationship between narcissism and sensitivity to criticism is highly dependent upon the definition or “form” of narcissism considered.

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Acknowledgment

The authors would like to thank the following people for their help in conducting this research: Jason Jiandani, Chelsea Heinz, Sara Mansfield, Sarah Canfield, Amy Leach, Catie Camille, Sarah Schuldt, Mary Serafin, Tera Hamilton, Sara Andrews, and Nancy Furlong.

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Correspondence to Gordon D. Atlas.

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Atlas, G.D., Them, M.A. Narcissism and Sensitivity to Criticism: A Preliminary Investigation. Curr Psychol 27, 62 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-008-9023-0

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Keywords

  • Narcissism
  • Criticism
  • Aggression