Student Author:

Rachel L. Clasing '15

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1



Young adult narcissism has been the focus of much discussion in the personality literature and popular press. Yet no previous studies have addressed whether there are age differences in the relative desirability of narcissistic and non-narcissistic self-descriptions, such as those presented as answer choices on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Hall, 1979). In Study 1, younger age was associated with less negative evaluations of narcissistic (vs. non-narcissistic) statements in general, and more positive evaluations of narcissistic statements conveying leadership/authority. In Study 2, age was unrelated to perceiving a fictional target person as narcissistic, but younger age was associated with more positive connotations for targets described with narcissistic statements and less positive connotations for targets described with non-narcissistic statements, in terms of the inferences made about the target’s altruism, conscientiousness, social status, and self-esteem. In both studies, age differences in the relative desirability of narcissism remained statistically significant when adjusting for participants’ own narcissism, and the NPI showed measurement invariance across age. Despite perceiving narcissism similarly, adults of different ages view the desirability of NPI answer choices differently. These results are important when interpreting cross-generational differences in NPI scores, and can potentially facilitate cross-generational understanding.



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