Narcissism and Reactions to a Self-Esteem Insult: An Experiment Using Predictions from Self-Report and the Rorschach Task

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Journal of personality assessment


We used self-reported narcissistic grandiosity and vulnerability and a component derived from 11 potential grandiosity and narcissism variables (GNVs) coded from Rorschach behavior to predict fluctuations in self-esteem and their links to anger and defensive reactions. We assessed state mood, state self-esteem, and performance attributions in 105 college students who underwent a self-esteem manipulation involving success followed by failure on cognitive testing. Self-reported grandiosity predicted the disavowal of effortful ability as a factor in failure, but we did not replicate other previously reported findings for this variable. Self-reported vulnerability predicted oscillations in self-reported mood and self-esteem. The GNV scale predicted spontaneously expressed hostility and externalization following self-esteem insult, and attributions mediated its relationship with anger expressed after failure. We discuss implications of these results and recommend additional replication research.

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