How Does It Feel to Be a Narcissist? Narcissism and Emotions

  • Anna Z. CzarnaEmail author
  • Marcin Zajenkowski
  • Michael Dufner


Emotional processes are of key importance for the understanding of narcissism, in both its grandiose and its vulnerable forms. The current chapter provides an overview on the links between narcissism and emotionality. The two forms of narcissism differ distinctly in their hedonic tone, with vulnerable narcissism being characterized by negative emotionality and low well-being and grandiose narcissism being linked to positive emotionality and high well-being. Both forms are related to strong mood variability that is thought to stem from contingent self-esteem. Both forms are related to hubristic pride, but only vulnerable narcissism is linked to shame-proneness, envy, and schadenfreude. Both forms are characterized by outbursts of anger, but the underlying causes and the expression of anger differ between the two forms. Specifically, vulnerable narcissism is linked to uncontrollable narcissistic rage that stems from a fragile sense of self and results in disproportionate and dysfunctional aggression. Grandiose narcissism, in contrast, goes along with instrumental aggression that serves the purpose of asserting one’s dominance in the face of strong direct status threats. Vulnerable narcissism is related to deficits in emotion regulation, yet research has just begun to shed light on the regulation processes of grandiose narcissists. The chapter concludes with reflections on how recent theoretical and methodological developments might be employed to gain a fuller understanding of narcissists’ emotional lives.


Narcissism Emotions Subjective well-being Hubristic and authentic pride Shame Envy Schadenfreude Narcissistic rage Emotion regulation Emotion contagion 



The present work was supported by grant no. 2015/19/B/HS6/02214 from the National Science Center, Poland, awarded to the first author and by grant no. 2016/23/B/HS6/00312 from the National Science Center, Poland, to the second author.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Z. Czarna
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcin Zajenkowski
    • 2
  • Michael Dufner
    • 3
  1. 1.Jagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland
  2. 2.University of WarsawWarsawPoland
  3. 3.University of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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