Projects »

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 more recent research on this issue, we examined 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, we found 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 (see Cheng, Tracy, & Miller, 2013).