In their book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, authors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell argue that narcissistic behavior is on the rise in our society. But what does that mean? How can we measure what is largely an interior belief? Is there a way to actually quantify “an inflated view of oneself?”
Many psychologists believe that there is. In the late 1970s, two professors, working out of UC-Berkley, developed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). The most common version of this inventory pairs 40 narcissistic statements with 40 non-narcissistic statements. The respondent is then asked to choose which statement best describes his or her personality. For your own amusement (or edification), click the picture below and take the test. Don’t worry, it’ll only take two minutes; and I’ll be right here when you get back.
Well, what did you think? Kind of interesting, wasn’t it? Now that you know how it works, I want to show you a graph that displays the results of college students, who took the test, from 1982 to 2006. Here it is:
Now remember, a score between 12 and 15 is considered to be average. A score around 18 is how a celebrity typically views him or herself; and a score that is 20 or above is considered to be “narcissistic.” In order to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a person would score above 20 on this index and would possess five or more of the following traits.
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
At present, only 1 in 4 college students are technically “narcissistic.” But if the trend continues to progress at its current rate, we are looking at a future – only 20 years from now! – where the “average” student will live their day-to-day life as an operational narcissist.