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Understanding the Social Costs of Narcissism Essay

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Updated: Aug 12th, 2019


Most of the recent research studies that have been conducted demonstrate that narcissism tendencies are indeed in the increase. Although about 62% of the world population is believed to have been affected by this disorder, researchers are still unanimous that those born roughly between early 1980s and late 1990s, also referred to as Generation Y are most affected (Daig, Klapp & Fliege 2009, p.371).

In other words, the narcissistic tendencies are more prevalent among this generation compared to the others. However, it would be imperative to investigate the underlying meaning behind narcissism. This term has been used to refer to some kind of selfish attitude that overrides an individual. In other words, narcissistic individuals have an overrated opinion and value among themselves. In some cases, they have also been described to possess ego-centric personalities and also tend to be dominated by superiority complex.

The fact that narcissists tend to be self entitled has made it risky to employ such characters at various places of work. Researchers seem to be unanimous that such personalities are often hard to control. Worse still, they do not accommodate diverse opinions from others (Menon & Sharland 2011, p.53).

Latest studies have revealed that narcissistic tendencies are more prevalent among students enrolled in business schools compared to other disciplines such as history, religion or sciences. While the latter statement may still be treated as a hypothetical approach, some solid research with concrete evidences need to be carried out in order to come out with conclusive facts on narcissism.

Nonetheless, similar researches carried out have also revealed the positive attributes of narcissism. For instances, narcissists are quite aggressive as well as competitive when pursuing specific endeavors in spite of the fact that they have limited ability to correct past errors based on feedback (Macky, Gardner & Forsyth 2008, p.860).

Nonetheless, most of these research studies have utilized global measurements instead of making use of various facets of narcissism (Westerman et al. 2012, p.11). It is against this backdrop that this research paper attempts to examine the relationship between the different components of narcissism with that of academic exploitation with key reference to quantitative data that was gathered from students in business school undertaking organizational behavior course unit


Sample and Procedure

The participants for this survey comprised of 30 respondents drawn from the schools of psychology and business. The two schools were chosen for the sake of comparing the tendencies of narcissism. The sample did not include those respondents who were not within the Y generation. In addition, respondents who had incomplete data were not included in the sample.

In terms of the average age, our sample had a mean of 22 years although the participants had an age range from between 16 to 31 years. Out of the total sample size, there were 17 males, 8 females and some 5 respondents who failed to specify their gender.

It is worth noting that the given sample size was indeed instrumental towards the research study because it was convenient enough to handle and analyze. In addition, there was no extra credit given during the survey in addition to the fact that all the participants took part in the survey voluntarily.

Some of the additional elements included in the survey comprised their individual cumulative grade point average (GPA), gender, age as well as both dependent and independent variables that were considered to be vital. The survey was conducted by a third party during the normal class hours.


In order to examine the extent of narcissism; there was need for the respondents to complete the NPI form. It had a total of forty pair of statements which would offer responses for both narcissistic and non-narcissistic feedbacks. Since the sample size comprised of either narcissistic or non-narcissistic personalities, the participants were requested to choose specific statements that were compatible with their individual belief systems and intrinsic thoughts and feelings.

In order to obtain the final feedback, the total responses from narcissistic statements were put together. If the scores were found to be higher on the NPI form, then it would be an indication that the particular individual was more narcissistic in terms of character. On the other hand, lower scores on the NPI statements was a vivid indication that the respondent had minimal tendencies towards narcissism attitude.

The past research records have shown that there is usually sufficient validity and reliability when NPI is used to investigate narcissism tendencies in a given sample size.

The respondents offered their feedback on eight different aspects. These items attempted to inquire more on the career expectations of the participants. For instance, in terms of how easy it would be to secure employment after graduating, the participants were required to respond to the statement “it will be easy for me to get a job” on a 5-point scale (strongly agree for 5 and strongly do not agree for 1).

Another item that the participants were required to respond to was their individual salary expectation after being employed. There were a total of four different items which they were supposed to respond to. Two of the items were assessing their salary expectations immediately after being employed while the remaining two elements targeted their salary expectations after a period of 4 years or so into the working environment.

The participants were also requested to estimate how much they were expecting to earn in addition to the amount of salary compared to those of their colleagues in class. For example, the respondents gave a feedback on the statement “I expect my starting salary to be within $–per annum”. In this statement, there were a total of 7 options that were within the range $9,999 and $19,999. The topmost salary expectation was stipulated at $70,000 and above.

Another aspect in the survey form was on their individual expectations on promotions after securing a stable job. There were a total of 2 different aspects that the respondents were supposed to offer their feedback on. Some of the items they were supposed to respond to was “how many times do you anticipate promotion within the first five years after employment”? “How soon do you anticipate promotion after being employed”?


In order to analyze the results, inter-correlations as well as descriptive statistics were used as shown in the appendix below.

The average level of narcissism

The earlier hypothesis was that the business students are expected to have a higher level of narcissism compared to those from history or psychology disciplines. From the above results, it is evident that narcissism plays an integral role in shaping the personality of generation Y both in terms of personal life and career wise.

In one of the hypothesis, it was stated that there is indeed an extreme level of narcissism prevalent between the psychology students and their counterparts in the business school. This level of narcissism was equally found to be higher especially when gender had been controlled as a fixed variable.

After conducting an independent sample of t-test in order to evaluate the level of narcissism among male students, the results were even more elaborate. With a standard deviation of approximately 6.6 and a mean of about 17.8, it was definite that the latter figures were on a higher scale in comparison to that of the female respondents.

According to the results tabled in the appendix, it is evident that although students in the business school were generally overrated as narcissists, the female participants from the same school had higher narcissism levels than the male respondents who took part in the research study.


The growing tendency towards narcissism especially among the Millennial Generation has been an issue of concern for some considerable length of time now (Campbell et al. 2005, p.1360). Of particular importance is the comparison between students in the business school and those undertaking history or psychology. The former has been found out to be obsessed with entitlement, overconfidence as well as higher levels of narcissistic attitude (Campbell et al. 2007, p.228).

From the above survey which made use of the NPN statement form, it is evident that narcissism is more prevalent among business students since they had a higher score compared to most of their classmates in other disciplines. As a matter of fact, their career expectations were found to be overrated.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that narcissism did not portray any outstanding relationship with the results obtained from the business school classrooms. Needless to say, the results obtained above are demonstrative of the fact that narcissists have a higher or enhanced career expectation in terms of promotions, salary levels as well as ease of securing employment (Hill & Roberts 2011, p.7).

Although the aforementioned features of narcissists may be considered as the much needed self-drive towards career success in an individual’s life, narcissists have been labeled to be difficult to handle especially at workplace where corrective feedbacks need to be implemented as part and parcel of improving organizational performance.

At this point, it is also worth to mention that the results show that female students in the business school demonstrated higher tendencies towards narcissism than their male counterparts.


In recap, it is worth to mention that most of the past studies on narcissism have utilized globalised samples that may not precisely depict that actual measure of narcissism especially in localized quotas as it has been represented in this research findings. While a global analysis of narcissism has been lauded as a success, it is imperative to bring out some of the outstanding and unique distinctions in the various facets of narcissism. In addition, the study on narcissism should also be linked to leadership in variety of ways.

For instance, grandiose exhibitionism is a leadership quality that may not be readily evident among most narcissists and that is why some employers may not desire to hire individuals with narcissist personality. On the other hand, leadership attributes which is closely linked with entitlement/exploitiveness has myriads of negative outcomes that can equally jeopardize organizational performance. Unfortunately, theoretical research findings are quite unanimous that narcissists are well endowed with the latter personality features.


Campbell, W. K. et al. 2005, “Understanding the social costs of narcissism: The case of the tragedy of the commons”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 31 no.10, pp. 1358–1364.

Campbell, W. K. et al. 2007, “Do narcissists dislike themselves ‘deep down inside?” Psychological Science, vol. 18 no.3, pp. 227–229.

Daig, I., Klapp, B., & Fliege, H 2009, “Narcissism predicts therapy outcome in psychosomatic patients”. Journal of Psychopathy and Behavioral Assessment, vol. 31 no. 4 pp. 368–377.

Hill, L.P. & Roberts, WB 2011, “Narcissism, Well-Being, and Observer-Rated Personality Across the Lifespan”. Social Psychological and Personality Science. Vol. 000 no.00, pp. 1-8.

Macky, K, Gardner, D. & Forsyth. S 2008, “Generational differences at work: Introduction and overview”. Journal of Managerial Psychology. Vol. 23 no.8, pp. pp. 857-861.

Menon, K.M & Sharland, A 2011, “Narcissism, Exploitative Attitudes, and Academic Dishonesty: An Exploratory Investigation of Reality Versus Myth”. Journal of education for business. Vol. 86, pp.50-55.

Westerman, J.W et al. 2012, “Are Universities Creating Millennial Narcissistic Employees? An Empirical Examination of Narcissism in Business Students and Its implications”. Journal of Management education. Vol.36 no.1, pp. 5-32.

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