Current research supports two variants of narcissism: grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Although each variant shares a common core comprised of an antagonistic personality and an inflated sense of entitlement, the Perceived Control Theory of Narcissism (PCTN) identifies perception of control as the distinguishing factor between the two narcissistic subtypes. This study utilized self-report measures to examine the relationship between trait narcissism, locus of control, exploitativeness, and personal sense of power to test the predictability of the PCTN. Additionally, we explored whether social context affects trait narcissists’ expressions of exploitativeness and power. As expected, we found vulnerable narcissism correlated with an external locus of control, both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism correlated with exploitativeness, and grandiose narcissism correlated with a higher personal sense of power while vulnerable narcissism correlated with a lower personal sense of power. Our exploration involving the friends vs strangers condition revealed increasing levels of grandiose narcissism correlated with an increasing perception of power over strangers. Social context did not affect vulnerable narcissists’ personal sense of power nor did it affect trait narcissists’ exploitativeness. This research addressed a central question arising from current trait narcissism research seeking to identify diverging points between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Our results support the PCTN prediction that differences in perceived control result in divergent expressions of narcissistic traits. This research adds to a growing body of literature identifying traits specific to grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.
Prof. Ashley Hansen-Brown, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Michael J Root, Committee Member
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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Sullivan, Sean Stephan. (2020). The Relationship between Trait Narcissism and Perceptions of Control. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 345. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/345
Copyright © 2020 Sean Stephan Sullivan