Narcissism refers to a well-defined trait that groups together a set of build-ups which contain an individual’s beliefs about oneself and others, intellectual mannerisms and the guiding principles that direct an individual’s actions. Therefore, it would be incorrect to think that narcissism only means increased belief in one’s self importance over others (Hatemi and Fazekas, 874). Additionally, narcissism also guides the modern understanding of self identity. The latter notion states that human beings feel the need to preserve their identity through maintaining a positive view of themselves and therefore would resort to defensive strategies to keep their identity intact. Moreover, they would use the same methods to gain material benefits from others.
According to the authors, there exists more than one way in which narcissism is operationally defined. First, there are distinct differences between social narcissism, which is the main focus of this paper, and pathological narcissism. Social narcissism is inspired by an inflated feeling of self-importance and is characterized by traits such as egotism, exploitativeness and aggressiveness. On the other hand, pathological narcissism is majorly inspired by vulnerability that is defined by low self-esteem and emotional instability (Hatemi and Fazekas, 876 ). However, both forms of narcissism serve to exploit others in order to meet the needs of one person.
However, narcissism consists of various aspects that are both positive and negative. The combination of these constructs in a person gives the overall narcissism score of him or her. Generally, narcissism consists of seven qualities; authority-seeking, entitlement, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, superiority and vanity. Authority-seeking and self-sufficiency are regarded as the socially-adaptable features of narcissism. Authority-seeking refers to a person’s belief in his or her own abilities to lead and drive to take power (Hatemi and Fazekas, 880). Self-sufficiency entails an individual’s strong perception on his or her own ability to meet his or her own needs. Individuals who possess a high score on these two traits are often confident and show a high degree of self-awareness.
The remaining factors of narcissism are often associated with self-importance and individuals who score high on these elements often have low self-esteem and display little to no concern for others. Entitlement is a trait that indicates that an individual is born with the privilege of being better than others and therefore he or she deserves a special treatment than others. Vanity entails the desire to seek validation from others while maintaining self-glorification. Superiority refers to the extent to which an individual or group of people feels that they are more important than others. Exploitativeness means the willingness of a person to take advantage of others for personal profit. Finally, exhibitionism refers to the desire of an individual to be the center of attention while ignoring others. Moreover, it also encompasses the yearning of a person to have his or her opinions heard before others (Hatemi and Fazekas, 881). Despite narcissism having various definitions operationally, it can be a great aid in the study of an individual’s political inclinations and therefore, each trait should be studied independently.
As argued by the authors, both liberals and conservatives exhibit narcissistic tendencies. Moreover, there exists similarities and differences in the manner in which narcissism is shown in both cases. In the similarities, both groups of political ideologies show superiority aspect of narcissism. Among liberals, a insistence on identity politics has taken considerable attention. Consequently, political groupings according to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and culture have emerged claiming to be supporting liberal values (Hatemi and Fazekas, 880 ). Moreover, they proceed to insist that people conform to these set of values. On the other hand, conservatives are in support of policies that serve to maintain their identity. Their perceived notions of resource scarcity and possible conflict are the main motivation for their belief in border control and less immigration.
However, there are distinct differences in the implementation of narcissism in both liberalism and conservatism. First, in liberalism, there exists a belief that society is responsible for other people’s welfare (Hatemi and Fazekas, 882). The latter belief is reflected in the strong support that welfare programs and universal healthcare policies receive from the liberals. The above aspect of liberalism is an opposite element to entitlement and self-sufficiency traits that are dominant with conservatives. Moreover, conservatives favor self-reliance and competition and consequently are strong proponents of hierarchy.
Secondly, liberals are more open to divide themselves into smaller groups based on class, ethnicity, citizenship, sexual orientation or income to propel a specific agenda. Consequently, increased attention has been paid to “micro-aggressions” in speech and everyday phrases that do not conform to the interests of these liberal groups. On the other hand, conservatives are more concerned with maintaining the current status quo and social groupings (Hatemi and Fazekas, 881 ). Therefore, they reject any assertions made by the liberals that is aimed at challenging phrases they are used to and limiting their freedom of speech.
The entitlement facet of narcissism is different from the exhibitionism facet of narcissism in a number of ways. Exhibitionism is closely associated with identity politics, specifications of political standings and desire to control the issue space while limiting opposing voices’ impact. Therefore, exhibitionism strongly leans towards to liberalism and there exists no correlation between exhibitionism and conservatism. On the other hand, the entitlement element of narcissism is evident in both liberals and conservatives. Among liberals, entitlement is supported through the belief that people belonging to certain groups are entitled to certain benefits over others. Moreover, the stronger identity politics build a case for the strong correlation between liberalism and entitlement. On the other hand, conservatism also indicates qualities of entitlement (Hatemi and Fazekas, 883). These qualities are evident in the power-seeking nature of conservatives and the desire to maintain the status quo of social groupings that already exist in the society.
In the conclusion, the authors concluded that narcissisms exist in equal capacity in both liberal and conservative ideologies. Although the different ideologies differ sharply in policies, the manner in which they are inspired psychologically remains the same. However, the media and various scholars tend to present a false sense of good versus evil when debating policies from the two camps. The major differences in thinking of these two tenets arise from the five aspects of narcissism that are referred to as socially maladaptive features. For instance, a higher sense of entitlement is likely to steer an individual from the Democrats’ Party but does not necessarily make the person a Republican. However, a high degree of exhibitionism in a person is likely to increase the person’s chances of being a Democrat. However, socially-adaptable traits of narcissism which are authority-seeking and self-sufficiency do not bear any significant effect on a person’s political affiliation(Hatemi and Fazekas, 884) .
Moreover, it is important to note that both advocates for liberalism and conservatism in some scenarios share the same values but fail to see this common ground (Hatemi and Fazekas, 882). For example, conservatives see themselves as self-sufficient but insist that liberals do not share this belief. However, for liberals, they perceive themselves as self-sufficient as their conservative counterparts. Furthermore, more studies have indicated that exhibitionism and entitlement make up a unique functional psychology that regulates identity formation and tendency for status maintenance. Therefore, contrasting political orientations need both same and different psychological needs to find a middle ground during compromise. Hence, a deeper understanding of those needs provides a unique chance to find common ground between people of contrasting ideologies.
Increased levels of narcissism are detrimental to the American society in a number of ways. First, increased narcissism would mean that there would be a significant increase in entitlement across different groups. Therefore, more people would be less likely to compromise on issues on national importance and thus little or no progress will be made towards growth (Squire, et.al., 250). Moreover, there would be a significant drop in people who experience empathy during decision-making processes. Therefore, it would lead to ill-informed choices on the part of the leaders.
Narcissism offers a logical explanation to why people are more oriented towards political activism (Squire,et.al., 105). The psychological reasoning behind narcissistic tendencies provides sound reasoning into why people lean towards certain specific political beliefs. Therefore, it is easier to understand other people’s political affiliations through understanding how narcissism works. Additionally, narcissism has caused more political polarization and social hostility between Americans than before (Squire, et.al., 25). The evidence for this conclusion is evident in the manner through which individuals of different ideologies address each other with disdain. In some cases, discussions on certain topics turn into insults. Moreover, the division of various sects of the media on grounds of political values is an indication of the deepening rifts between the right and the left.
Hatemi, Peter K., and Zoltán Fazekas. "Narcissism and Political Orientations." American Journal of Political Science, vol. 62, no. 4, 2018, pp. 873-888.
Squire, Peverill, et al. Dynamics of Democracy. 5th ed., Atomic Dog, 2010.