One Sign of Narcissism That Turns Out to Be All Wrong
So what gives? Why was a feature of the condition that was considered so intuitively right so demonstrably wrong? Part of the reason, the researchers speculate, may be that narcissists radiate such confidence and cockiness that the expectation is that they use the I pronoun more even when they don’t. “Perceived I talk,” they wrote, “may be part of a perceptual schema of self-confidence or arrogance which, once activated, selectively…draws attention to a person’s use of the first-person singular.”
No less a person than President Obama—who likely ranks high on the NPI, as studies suggest most U.S. Presidents do—was a victim of this misconception. Early in his first term he was criticized for using far too much I talk, but ironically, the authors write, “Obama’s actual first-person singular pronoun [use]…put him at the very bottom of the distribution of modern U.S. Presidents; much lower, for example, than President G. W. Bush, Clinton and G. H. W. Bush.”
None of this mitigates the radioactive nature of the narcissistic temperament or the importance of avoiding their contamination field. Indeed, it makes them even more dangerous if the Geiger counter we’ve been using for decades turns out to have been mis-calibrated all along.