Narcissists Rejoice Over Their Superior Health

As if they needed anything else to feel smug about

A classic narcissist enjoying his superior health diagnostics. Image via Flickr user Rectoo Inx.

As if narcissists needed yet another feather to add to their crowded caps, a new paper out of the Personality and Individual Differences journal shows that their navel-gazing tendencies may even carry certain health benefits. How…splendid.

In an appropriate nod to one of literature’s most vain characters, the study boasts the title “Dorian Gray without his portrait” and examines the also fittingly named Dark Triad trait trio—Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism—in an almost 3,700-strong test pool of American, British, and Australian high school and undergraduate students to see their associations with certain health outcomes. What researchers found was that high levels of narcissism correlated with lower rates of physical and mental illness, while elevated levels of the other two Triad traits were connected to poorer general health, including tendencies for depression and other serious psychiatric illnesses.

As Science of Us reports, subjects underwent assessments of both their mental, physical, and psychological health, as well as social skills, and filled out questionnaires to glean how closely they associated with telling statements such as “I tend to want others to admire me” and “I have used deceit or lied to get my way.” The students also took surveys that asked them to gauge their personal sense of physical health in comparison with their peers. In this particular area, the narcissists, perhaps unsurprisingly, took top honors, though how much of that is due to self-involved self-elevation is up for debate.

What the authors attribute this to is that narcissists tend to be very social creatures, largely due to the fact that they desperately “seek external validation and attention and high emotional intelligence.” Thus, they may get out more and enjoy the benefits of increased human contact and activity. On the flip side, those who rank higher in psychopathy and Machiavellianism usually are more socially isolated, and perhaps sedentary, as a result.

Well, narcissists, Coachella may have turned its nose up at you lot this year (as if that’s going to stop any of you), but at least you have your superior health. Smirk on.

Julian Meehan

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