Early Impressions of Grandiose Narcissists: A Dual-Pathway Perspective

  • Mitja D. BackEmail author
  • Albrecht C. P. Küfner
  • Marius Leckelt


Getting-to-know situations are complex social contexts both for narcissists (who love to present themselves but are not inherently interested in others) and their social partners (who are fascinated but also turned off by narcissists). In this chapter, we give an empirical and conceptual overview on the early impressions grandiose narcissists make. We first summarize the existing empirical findings on the association between narcissism and personality impressions as well as liking at zero- and short-term acquaintance. This research indicates that narcissists tend to impress others despite the fact that others are able to accurately detect their narcissistic characteristics. We then present a dual-pathway framework that organizes these findings and specifies the moderating conditions of more or less positive first impressions of narcissists. The agentic pathway includes the tendency to behave dominant and expressive, which leads to being seen as assertive, which is evaluated positively and, thus, fosters popularity. The antagonistic pathway includes arrogant and combative behavior, which leads to being seen as aggressive, which is evaluated negatively and, thus, fosters unpopularity. Depending on which of the two pathways is triggered more in a given situation, at a given acquaintance level, and by a given facet of narcissism, a more or less positive/negative association between narcissism and popularity can result. Initial empirical investigations of unfolding laboratory group interactions underline the validity and utility of the dual-pathway perspective. We close with a number of suggestions for future research that applies the dual-pathway perspective across samples, contexts, and designs.


Narcissism Interpersonal perceptions Zero acquaintance Dual pathway Personality processes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitja D. Back
    • 1
    Email author
  • Albrecht C. P. Küfner
    • 1
  • Marius Leckelt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MünsterMünsterGermany

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