Self-Enhancement, Narcissism, and Self-esteem
A number of projects in the lab examine the personality and emotional processes underlying inflated versus genuine self-esteem and narcissism (see Tracy & Robins, 2003; Tracy & Robins, 2004, Psych Inquiry; Tracy, Cheng, Trzesniewski, & Robins, 2009; Tracy, Cheng, Martens, & Robins, 2011). In new research on this issue, we are examining the psychobiological costs of narcissistic self-aggrandizement. Narcissism has long been conceived as a problematic personality profile, with deleterious effects on interpersonal relationships, well-being, and mental health. However, many studies have shown that narcissists report higher psychological well-being and adjustment, directly contradicting theoretical assumptions. One way to reconcile these perspectives, however, is to assume that narcissists’ self-reports reflect their inflated self-views, but not their biological reality. Supporting this account, preliminary findings from our research, led by Joey Cheng and in collaboration with Dr. Greg Miller (UBC) suggest that narcissists who experience daily negative emotions show heightened levels of biomarkers of stress (e.g., cortisol, alpha-amylase), suggesting that everyday negative affect may be particularly taxing for these individuals.