The Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Concept

  • Mitja D. BackEmail author


In this chapter, I present a theoretical framework that is aimed at explaining the complex and seemingly paradoxical structure, dynamics, and consequences of grandiose narcissism: the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Concept (NARC). I first very briefly review the state of research on grandiose narcissism, showing that the content conceptually aligned with, and the measures typically applied to assess, grandiose narcissism can be sorted into more agentic and more antagonistic aspects that show unique nomological networks, dynamics, and outcomes. Then I describe a novel self-regulatory perspective, the NARC, which distinguishes between these agentic and antagonistic aspects of grandiose narcissism. According to the NARC, narcissists overarching goal to create and maintain a grandiose self can be pursued by two social strategies (narcissistic self-promotion and narcissistic self-defense) that translate into two sets of dynamics (narcissistic admiration and rivalry) with distinct affective-motivational, cognitive, and behavioral states that tend to have different social consequences (social potency and conflict). The NARC is meant to provide a clearer understanding of what grandiose narcissism is, how it works, and why it produces a rich variety of seemingly contradictory outcomes. I continue by presenting a summary of existing empirical evidence for the validity of the NARC, underlining its two-dimensional structure, the distinct mental and behavioral dynamics of narcissistic admiration and rivalry, and their unique intra- and interpersonal as well as institutional outcomes. Finally, I outline an agenda for future research that focuses on how admiration and rivalry combine, fluctuate, and develop within persons.


Narcissism Self-regulation Grandiosity Self-enhancement Self-protection Personality processes 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

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