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Levels of narcissism among college students have increased steadily across generations over the past few decades (Twenge & Foster, 2010). The subtypes of narcissism, grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, both take root in self-centeredness and entitlement. However, an overconfidence and inflated sense of self characterize grandiose narcissists, who often use their charm as a source of agency and control over others, while vulnerable narcissists are insecure, defensive and suspicious yet dependent on others due to their perceived lack of control (Hansen-Brown & Crocker, 2017). Research is needed to explore the inciting influential factors in narcissism development, as well as what influences the deviation between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. The current study investigated the potential role of parenting style (i.e., authoritarian, authoritative, permissive), positive and negative childhood experiences, and childhood trauma in the development of each type of narcissism (grandiose or vulnerable), using the parenting styles defined by Baumrind (1967). We found that grandiose narcissists tended to recall permissive parenting while vulnerable narcissists recalled authoritarian parenting. Vulnerable narcissists reported higher levels of trauma and negative childhood experiences in comparison to grandiose narcissists, although grandiose narcissism was related to positive childhood experiences as well as negative childhood experiences and trauma. There was no evidence of significant differences in grandiose and vulnerable narcissism in relation to maternal and paternal parenting styles. These variables are not the sole cause of narcissism development; however, researchers and mental health professionals can utilize the knowledge gained from this study to build on previous research and improve early intervention and therapeutic treatment methods for grandiose and vulnerable trait narcissism.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Ashley Hansen-Brown, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Sandra Neargarder, Committee Member

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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