Research on collective narcissism was featured at a The Three Faces of Grandiose Narcissism symposium organized by Prof. Anthony Hermann (Bradley University) and Dr Amy Brunell (Ohio State University at Mansfield) at the Society for Experimental Social Psychology SESP annual conference in Toronto, October 17-19. I am thrilled to give a talk Collective narcissism: Political consequences of investing self-esteem in the in-group image during the symposium.
Collective narcissism is a belief that one’s own in-group is exceptional, which is not sufficiently appreciated by others. The voting decisions that recently re-shaped political landscapes have legitimized collective narcissism as a valid belief about the national in-groups. Thus, it is important to understand psychological antecedents and intergroup consequences of collective narcissism. The reviewed research suggests that collective narcissism compensates for low self-esteem and increases in conditions that undermine the sense of self-worth, leaving collective narcissists hyper-vigilant to signs of threat to the in-group’s position. People endorsing collective narcissism retaliate to real and imagined provocations against the in-group but sometimes overlook real threats to the in-group’s welfare to protect its image. They are prejudiced, hostile and prone to conspiratorial thinking. Deficits in emotional regulation, hostile attribution bias and vindictiveness lie behind the robust link between collective narcissism and intergroup hostility. Collective narcissism is contrasted with in-group satisfaction, a belief that the in-group is of high value and a reason to be proud. In-group satisfaction is uniquely linked to trust and tolerance towards out-groups. The positive overlap with in-group satisfaction mitigates collective narcissistic intergroup hostility and indirectly links collective narcissism to high self-esteem. Increase in in-group satisfaction can lift individual self-esteem and in consequence, lower collective narcissism. Conversely, when the role of in-group satisfaction is marginalized, people who were made uncertain about their self-esteem are more likely to turn against other groups because they are motivated to protect the in-group in whose grandiosity their self-esteem is invested.
Read our review of research on collective narcissism published in Political Psychology and recent paper on self-esteem, collective narcissism and out-group derogation published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.