One Sign of Narcissism That Turns Out to Be All Wrong
But there are holes in all of the research: the books and music may be consumed by narcissists drawn by their self-referential tone, but they’re not necessarily written by them, and there’s no telling how the listeners and readers themselves actually talk. What’s more, the 1988 study was a small one of just 48 subjects—a piece of work long considered too thin to go unchallenged.
So challenged it was, and in a very big way, with a research group headed by doctoral candidate Angela Carey of the University of Arizona’s psychology department surveying 4,811 different subjects, all of whom sat for one of 15 different experiments—writing essays or telling stories about their past, completing questionnaires, engaging in stream-of-conscious conversation, offering their Facebook pages for analysis and more. The subjects also took the NPI. And the result?
Pretty much nothing. Among nearly all of the volunteers participating in all 15 studies, there was simply no there there, with narcissists and non-narcissists using the Ipronoun with about the same frequency. Among males there was a slightly higher correlation between I use and narcissism than there was among females, but not enough to cross the threshold of statistical significance.