Sander Thomaes, Utrecht University
When Narcissus Was a Boy
Narcissistic self-views have wide-ranging effects on human cognition, emotion, and behavior—so research involving adult participants shows. Little is known, however, about the early manifestations and consequences of narcissism in childhood. We showed that narcissism can be reliably identified in children age 8 and older. In a series of experimental and diary studies, we found that narcissism influences children to experience anger and to lash out aggressively following shameful, humiliating events. In a field experiment, we found that narcissistic aggression in schools can be temporarily attenuated using a brief self-affirmation writing assignment. In another area of research, we have challenged the notion that narcissism buffers the negative emotional impact of peer rejection. Finally, in recent work we have examined how narcissism impacts children’s school performance and problematic eating. Together, our results suggest that is already from early stages of development that narcissism comes to exert a strong impact on psychological adjustment.