Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Psychology in the Public Sphere

Do politicians score higher on the NPI than people in other professions?

In one of the few studies to empirically investigate narcissistic traits in politicians, Robert Hill and Gregory Yousey administered the NPI to 123 university faculty, forty-two politicians (state legislators from four states), ninety-nine clergy (both protestant ministers and Catholic priests), and 195 librarians. Their 1998 study found a statistically significant difference in total scores, with politicians scoring higher than the other three professional groups. In terms of the four subscales, politicians scored the highest on the leadership/authority subscale, and clergy scored the lowest on the exploitativeness/entitlement subscale.

In other words, politicians did score higher than the other three groups in total narcissism, but the differences seemed mainly due to their high scores on the leadership/authority scores. Interestingly, although the differences did not reach statistical significance, politicians also had the highest scores on superiority/arrogance and exploitativeness/entitlement subscales and professors had the highest scores on self-absorption/self-admiration. Without statistical significance, however, these last differences could be due to chance.


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