Narcissism isn’t a trait we encourage in children for obvious reasons. Narcissists exhibit extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of their own talents, and a craving for admiration.
However, a new international study suggests that narcissistic students outperform their peers in the classroom.
The research was led by Kostas Papageorgiou, a lecturer in developmental psychopathology at Queen's University Belfast in the UK. The findings have since been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Papageorgiou told Medical News Today that while previous studies indicate that narcissism is a growing trend in society, it does not necessarily mean that an individual who displays high narcissistic qualities has a personality disorder.
“In our research, we focused on subclinical or 'normal' narcissism. Subclinical narcissism includes some of the same features of [the] clinical syndrome – grandiosity, entitlement, dominance, and superiority,” he said.
According to the study, in addition to having greater self-esteem, teens with higher levels of subclinical narcissism also tend to be more “mentally tough”. This, in turn, leads to better academic outcomes.
Papageorgiou urged a rethink in terms of how we perceive narcissism.
“We perceive emotions or personality traits as being either bad or good but psychological traits are the products of evolution; they are neither bad nor good – they are adaptive or maladaptive,” he said.
“Perhaps we should expand conventional social morality to include and celebrate all expressions of human nature.”