Narcissism and Memory
Grandiose narcissism (characterized by an inflated sense of self) uniquely influences the encoding and retrieval of information important to one’s identity including evaluative feedback, self-related traits, and life events. Depending on both the valence (positive or negative) and the agency (self- vs. other-focused) of the information or events, narcissists’ memories may be more vivid, suppressed, or distorted. This chapter summarizes prior research on narcissism and memory as well as more recent studies focusing on the role of attention biases in the encoding of self-related traits and memories. Overall, studies support the agency model of narcissism’s prediction of attention biases and memorial enhancement for positive-agentic (e.g., clever, talented) rather than positive-communal (e.g., cooperative, sympathetic) events or information. However, results are mixed for the attention to and encoding of negative-agentic traits/events (e.g., shameful, stupid) and may depend on the extent to which the information is ego-threatening as well as the subtype of narcissism (vulnerable or grandiose).
KeywordsAgency model of narcissism Autobiographical memory Self-reference effect Mnemic neglect Attentional biases
- Campbell, W. K., & Foster, J. D. (2007). The narcissistic self: Background, an extended agency model, and ongoing controversies. In C. Sedikides & S. Spencer (Eds.), Frontiers in social psychology: The self (pp. 115–138). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Campbell, W. K., Brunell, A. B., & Finkel, E. J. (2006). Narcissism, interpersonal self-regulation, and romantic relationships: An agency model approach. In E. J. Finkel & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Self and relationships: Connecting intrapersonal and interpersonal processes (pp. 57–83). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Foster, J. D., & Brennan, J. C. (2011). Narcissism, the agency model, and approach-avoidance motivation. In W. K. Campbell & J. Miller (Eds.), Handbook of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Theoretical approaches, empirical findings, and treatment (pp. 89–100). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar