If you want to be a great success, the first step is believing you are great, even if it makes you really, really irritating.
That’s the view of a team of researchers who say that narcissists are more likely to be higher achievers in life.
The reason? Their “heightened sense of self-worth” makes them supremely self-confident and gives them a mental toughness to refuse to give up.
The researchers said the “growing” rate of narcissism in society could be linked with better school achievement.
Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, director of the InteRRaCt lab in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, discovered that adolescents who score high on certain aspects of narcissism may be more mentally tough and can perform better at school.
“If you are a narcissist you believe strongly that you are better than anyone else and that you deserve reward,” said Dr Papageorgiou.
“Being confident in your own abilities is one of the key signs of grandiose narcissism and is also at the core of mental toughness.
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“If a person is mentally tough, they are likely to embrace challenges and see these as an opportunity for personal growth.”
Dr Papageorgiou said: “Narcissism is considered as a socially malevolent trait and it is part of the dark triad of personality traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.
“Previous studies indicate that narcissism is a growing trend in our society but this does not necessarily mean that an individual who displays high narcissistic qualities has a personality disorder.
“In our research, we focused on subclinical or ‘normal’ narcissism. Subclinical narcissism includes some of the same features of clinical syndrome – grandiosity, entitlement, dominance and superiority.”
The findings are the result of an international collaboration which included Professor Yulia Kovas, director of InLab at Goldsmiths University of London; as well as leading experts from King’s College London, Manchester Metropolitan University, Huddersfield University and the University of Texas at Austin, US.
Dr Papageorgiou’s research suggests that in some ways, narcissism might actually be a positive attribute.
He added: “People who score high on subclinical narcissism may be at an advantage because their heightened sense of self-worth may mean they are more motivated, assertive and successful in certain contexts.
“Previous research in our lab has shown that subclinical narcissism may increase mental toughness. If an individual scores high on mental toughness, this means they can perform at their very best in pressured and diverse situations.”