Facets of the self in grandiose and vulnerable narcissism: Implicit self -esteem, explicit self -esteem, and shame
Theorists and researchers studying narcissism have increasingly argued that significant variability exists in its clinical presentation, with converging evidence suggesting distinct grandiose and vulnerable types. The present study investigated implicit self-esteem, explicit self-esteem, and shame in analogue populations of grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists, and non-narcissistic controls. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) was administered to a large college student population (n = 2,790), from which a final sample of grandiose types (n = 51), vulnerable types (n = 51), and controls ( n = 53) were identified and recruited for the core study. Participants completed several measures of self-reported (explicit) self-esteem and shame, and completed two versions of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure implicit self-esteem. Grandiose types reported more overall explicit self-esteem, more self-liking and self-competence, and more actual/ideal self congruency than vulnerable types. Grandiose types reported less shame than vulnerable types. Grandiose types and controls did not differ on any of the explicit self-esteem measures or on shame. There were no significant differences between groups on the IAT. Results further substantiate the existence of the vulnerable narcissistic type, but do not provide evidence for the existence of a fragile core in the personality of the grandiose narcissist. The lack of group differences on the IAT raises questions about the efficacy of the IAT as a valid measure of implicit self-esteem. In addition, caveats regarding the use and interpretation of explicit self-esteem measures are discussed.