Sex differences in narcissism

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In gender studies, the analysis of gender differences in narcissism shows that male narcissism and female narcissism differ in a number of aspects.

Jeffrey Kluger, in his 2014 book The Narcissist Next Door suggested that our society, still largely patriarchal, is more likely to tolerate male narcissism and aggressiveness than these of females.[1] This assertion was voiced, although without definite proof, by a number of other researchers.

In 2015 a number of media outlets reported[1][2] about a study at the University of Buffalo which analyzed 31 years of data of narcissism research and concluded that men consistently scored higher in the first two of three aspects of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory: leadership/authority, exploitative/entitlement, and grandiose/exhibitionism.[3][4] The team leader of the research, Emily Grijalva, commented that on average this difference is slight (a one-quarter of a standard deviation) and there was almost no difference in the exhibitionism dimension (which covers such aspects as vanity, self-absorption and attention-seeking). She notices that a similar degree of difference is observed for other personality traits, e.g., slightly higher neuroticism for women or slightly higher risk-taking for men.[5] The reasons of reported gender difference were outside the scope of the study, however the authors speculated that it is rooted in historically established social conventions about what is acceptable for a particular gender and what are the traditional social roles for genders.[5]

A number of earlier studies (on smaller scales) reported similar bias.[6] A further indication for the trend was a 2008 finding that the lifetime narcissistic personality disorder is more prevalent for men (7.7%) than for women (4.8%).[7]


  1. ^ a b Jeffrey Kluger, "Why Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women"
  2. ^ "Proof at last: men really are bigger narcissists than women"
  3. ^ "Study: Men tend to be more narcissistic than women", A University of Buffalo news release, March 4, 2015
  4. ^ "Gender differences in narcissism: A meta-analytic review.", Grijalva, Emily; Newman, Daniel A.; Tay, Louis; Donnellan, M. Brent; Harms, P. D.; Robins, Richard W.; Yan, Taiyi, Psychological Bulletin, Vol 141(2), Mar 2015, 261-310. doi:10.1037/a0038231 (article text available from DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
  5. ^ a b "Narcissism increases the chance you'll be seen as a leader, especially if you're a man", Emily Grijalva, Monday 9 March 2015, The Guardian
  6. ^ Joshua D. Foster, W. Keith Campbell, Jean M. Twenge, "Individual differences in narcissism: Inflated self-views across the lifespan and around the world", Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 37, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 469–486, doi:10.1016/S0092-6566(03)00026-6. Quote: "The results suggest that (1) reported narcissism declines in older participants, (2) consistent with previous findings, males report being more narcissistic than females, (3) that ethnic differences in reported narcissism are generally comparable to those found in the self-esteem literature, and (4) that world region appears to exert influence on narcissism, with participants from more individualistic societies reporting more narcissism."
  7. ^ Grijalva et al. (2015) citing Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A., Goldstein, R. B., Chou, S. P., Huang, B., Smith, S. M., . . .Grant, B. F. (2008). "Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM–IV narcissistic personality disorder: Results from the wave 2 national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69, 1033–1045. doi:10.4088/JCP.v69n0701

Further reading[edit]

  • William Beers, Women and Sacrifice: Male Narcissism and the Psychology of Religion, Wayne State University Press, Ph.D., thesis, Hardcover – August 1, 1992, ISBN 0814323774, 216pp (a review and excerpt in Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture )
  • Scott W. Keiller, Kent State University, "Male Narcissism and Attitudes Toward Heterosexual Women and Men, Lesbian Women, and Gay Men: Hostility toward Heterosexual Women Most of All", Sex Roles, 63(7-8), 530–541. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9837-8 (Article review at Science Daily)