How To Deal With A Narcissist, Backed By Research

There are ways to make a narcissist easier to deal with.

Emphasize community when you talk to them. When they feel there’s a strong group behind something, they’re more likely to behave:

Three studies tested the hypotheses that the activation of communal mental representations promotes relationship commitment (communal activation hypothesis) and that this effect is stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists (Communal Activation x Narcissism hypothesis). Across experimental, longitudinal, and interaction-based research methods, and in participant samples ranging from college students to married couples, results supported the communal activation hypothesis in two of three studies and the Communal Activation x Narcissism hypothesis in all three studies. Moreover, a meta-analytic summary of the results across the three studies revealed that the association of communal activation with commitment was significant overall and that it was stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists. Narcissists tended to be less committed than nonnarcissists at low levels of communal activation, but this effect diminished and sometimes even reversed at high levels. This work is the first to identify a mechanism by which narcissists can become more committed relationship partners.

Source: “The Metamorphosis of Narcissus: Communal Activation Promotes Relationship Commitment Among Narcissists” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

(To learn how to get people to like you — from an FBI behavior expert — click here.)

When they do something wrong, use disappointment as a weapon to keep them in line. It works better than anger:

The authors examined whether individual differences in social value orientation moderate responses to other’s expressions of disappointment in negotiation. The literature suggested competing hypotheses: First, prosocials are more responsive to other’s disappointment because they have a greater concern for other; second, proselfs are more responsive because they see other’s disappointment as a threat to their own outcomes. Results of a computer-mediated negotiation in which a simulated opponent expressed disappointment, no emotion, or anger supported the second prediction: Proselfs conceded more to a disappointed opponent than to a neutral or angry one, whereas prosocials were unaffected by the other’s emotion. This effect was mediated by participants’ motivation to satisfy the other’s needs, which disappointment triggered more strongly in proselfs than in prosocials. Implications for theorizing on emotion, social value orientation, and negotiation are discussed.

Source: “What Other’s Disappointment May Do to Selfish People: Emotion and Social Value Orientation in a Negotiation Context” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

(To learn how to make difficult conversations easy, click here.)

Maybe you think you don’t deal with too many narcissists. There’s research that shows the leader of a group is more likely to be on the narcissistic end of the spectrum:

These studies investigate whether individuals with high narcissism scores would be more likely to emerge as leaders during leaderless group discussions. The authors hypothesized that narcissists would emerge as group leaders. In three studies, participants completed personality questionnaires and engaged in four-person leaderless group discussions. Results from all three studies reveal a link between narcissism and leader emergence. Studies 1 and 2 further reveal that the power dimension of narcissism predicted reported leader emergence while controlling for sex, self-esteem, and the Big Five personality traits. Study 3 demonstrates an association between narcissism and expert ratings of leader emergence in a group of executives. The implications of the propensity of narcissists to emerge as leaders are discussed.

Source: “Leader Emergence: The Case of the Narcissistic Leader” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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