Narcissism Gets You Only So Far

Study finds that emotionally intelligent people are most popular in the long run
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2016 9:40 AM CDT
Narcissism Gets You Only So Far
Narcissus peering at his image in a fountain. A new study finds that extremely self-centered people are more popular at first, then fall behind.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Do narcissists get ahead in terms of making friends? At least at first, a new study shows. But being selfless and nice pays off more in the long run, reports the Los Angeles Times. Researchers in Poland looked at how extremely self-centered people fare compared with those who are more empathetic and work at building loyal and trusting relationships. Dividing up college freshmen into small groups, the researchers found that after three months, those who reported high narcissistic personality traits enjoyed an early surge of popularity but eventually lost out to the emotionally intelligent, whose social skills revealed themselves more slowly. “It seems that a quieter and less needy ego, coupled with abilities to perceive, understand, use, and manage emotions, ensure better relationships in the long run," the authors write in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

But those categories are not clear cut: It turns out that most of us fall somewhere in between. The students who fared the worst were those who scored low in both categories—"a particularly unfortunate combination," the authors write. On the other hand, some narcissists also possessed enough emotional intelligence to make lasting friends. "At the extreme of both, such a person could be a presidential candidate or a manipulative sociopath—or both," Melissa Healy writes in the Times. Narcissists tended to "churn" through friends, which the researchers said was not a good strategy for keeping long-term allies, or staying popular. (Another study showed a link between narcissism and selfies.)

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