Narcissistic individuals have a strong desire for attracting short-term mates, being influential in groups, and attaining prestige and material wealth. Past research suggests that narcissistic individuals are also quite successful in attaining these outcomes and these effects are due to narcissists’ grandiose self-image and admiration-seeking tendency (i.e., admiration component of narcissism). In the current research, we investigated whether the effects of narcissistic admiration are moderated by specific qualities that are helpful for attaining the respective outcomes. Specifically, we tested whether physical attractiveness moderates the effect of narcissistic admiration on short-term mate appeal, whether intelligence and socio-emotional abilities moderate the effect on social influence, and whether intelligence moderates the effects on occupational prestige and material wealth. Analyzing data from a speed-dating study (Study 1, N = 397), a round-robin laboratory study (Study 2, N = 256), and a panel study representative of the German population (Study 3, N = 1,477), we found that narcissistic admiration and the respective qualities predicted the outcomes, but in most cases, their interactions were non-significant. There was one exception: Narcissistic admiration interacted with verbal intelligence in the sense that the effects of narcissistic admiration on occupational prestige and material wealth were more positive, the higher verbal intelligence was.

Narcissism is a personality trait with far reaching social consequences (Campbell & Miller, 2011; Hermann et al., 2018; Miller et al., 2021). Yet, what exactly these consequences are, is a matter of controversy. Some previous studies have, for example, indicated that grandiose narcissism goes along with short-term romantic appeal (Dufner et al., 2013), social influence (Grijalva, Harms, et al., 2015), and material wealth (Piff, 2014). In other studies, however, the links between narcissism and social outcomes were mixed (e.g., Küfner et al., 2013; Leder et al., 2021; Wurst et al., 2017).

It has been repeatedly proposed that moderating factors might explain these inconsistent results and research has indeed identified several such moderators, such as the narcissism facet that is being investigated (assertive self-enhancement vs. antagonistic self-protection; Back et al., 2013) and the time perspective (short-term vs. long-term effects; Campbell & Campbell, 2009). In the present research, we addressed another potentially moderating factor, namely the presence versus absence of specific qualities. With the term “qualities”, we mean normative attributes that are conductive for attaining certain social outcomes, such as physical attractiveness for attracting mates, intelligence and socio-emotional abilities for attaining social influence and intelligence for attaining material wealth. In the current research, we tested whether the effects of narcissism on such desirable social outcomes are more positive, the higher these qualities are. We did so by considering both actual, objectively assessed qualities and qualities, and subjectively perceived by interaction partners.

In recent years, there has been increasing agreement on two major forms of narcissism, namely grandiose and vulnerable narcissism (Miller et al., 2011; Wink, 1991). Grandiose narcissism is associated with high self-esteem (Sedikides et al., 2004), a strong self-enhancement motive (Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001), and approach motivation (Foster & Trimm, 2008). Vulnerable narcissism, in contrast, is connected to low self-esteem, shame, and avoidance motivation (Czarna et al., 2018; Weiss & Miller, 2018). It has been proposed that the self-enhancing, approach motivated aspects typical of grandiose narcissism facilitate the attainment of desirable social outcomes (Campbell & Foster, 2007). In line with this proposal, only grandiose, but not vulnerable, narcissism has been positively linked to mate appeal, social influence, and material wealth (Dufner et al., 2013; Grijalva, Harms, et al., 2015; Piff, 2014). The present investigation focused on such cases, where grandiose narcissism can be conductive for attaining desired social outcomes.

According to the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Concept (NARC, Back et al., 2013), the motivational core of grandiose narcissism is the desire to maintain a grandiose self-concept. This goal can be attainted via two distinct strategies, which entail distinct cognitive, affective and behavioral features and lead to different social outcomes. The first strategy, narcissistic admiration, represents the tendency for increasing the positivity of the self by engaging in assertive self-enhancement. It is associated with high self-esteem, self-confidence, and extraversion and leads to social potency (Back et al., 2013; Geukes et al., 2017; Leckelt et al., 2015). The second strategy, narcissistic rivalry, is characterized by antagonistic self-protection represents the tendency to defend the self against threats by derogating others. It is related to the devaluation of others, aggressiveness, and disagreeableness and leads to social conflict (Back et al., 2013; Rau et al., 2020).

According to the NARC, many of the positive effects of narcissism on social outcomes are due to the admiration dimension. Persons high in admiration are motivated to boost their egos by impressing others; and because they truly believe in themselves and possess a self-confident demeanor, they often manage to do so (Back et al., 2013). The central claim of the NARC that admiration leads to high social potency has been repeatedly backed up empirically (for a review, see Back, 2018). In the following, we will outline how grandiose narcissism, and particularly narcissistic admiration, is linked to the positive social outcomes of mate appeal, social influence, and material wealth/occupational prestige.

Mate Appeal

Narcissistic individuals often seek to satisfy their desire for admiration in the romantic domain (Campbell, 1999). Successfully courting romantic partners can be a powerful means to boost the ego (Preuss & Alicke, 2009) and previous research indicates that grandiose narcissism is accompanied by an increased tendency to engage in flirtatious behavior and to enter short-term affairs (Brunell & Campbell, 2011; Jonason et al., 2009; Koladich & Atkinson, 2016). Studies have also shown that narcissism is positively linked to mate appeal (i.e., the initial appeal an individual exerts on others as a potential sexual or romantic partner) and that this link is solely driven by the admiration dimension (Dufner et al., 2013; Wurst et al., 2017).

Social Influence

Another, and arguably a more proximal indicator of social potency is the social influence a person has attained in a group. Social influence is defined as the possibility of exerting influence over others, for example, by guiding the decisions. It can be assessed by group member ratings of influence or leadership nominations (Anderson et al., 2008). Narcissistic individuals are highly motivated to become group leaders (Emmons, 1989) and grandiose narcissism has been linked to leadership emergence (Grijalva, Harms, et al., 2015)—even though the appeal of narcissistic leaders seems to vanish in the long run (Brunell et al., 2008). A recent study found that only narcissistic admiration, but not narcissistic rivalry, was a positive predictor of social influence in group settings (Härtel et al., 2021).

Material Wealth and Occupational Prestige

Another way of gaining admiration is by accumulating material wealth (i.e., gaining money and/or precious possessions; Belk, 1988). Grandiose narcissism is associated with materialism (Sedikides et al., 2007) and an increased desire for material wealth (Kasser & Ryan, 1996; Roberts & Robins, 2000). And in fact, in a recent study representative of the German population, narcissistic admiration has also been related to a higher gross monthly income (Leckelt et al., 2019).

Finally, admiration can also be gained by working in a prestigious occupation, particularly one with a leadership position (Campbell et al., 2010). Occupational prestige describes that social prestige that is associated with a particular job (Ganzeboom & Treiman, 1996). Previous research has shown that narcissism is linked with a strong desire for a prestigious occupation (Roberts & Robins, 2000) and that individuals who score high on narcissistic admiration tend to have prestigious occupations (Leckelt et al., 2019).

Our reasoning thus far suggests that narcissistic individuals are highly motivated to boost their egos by attaining high mate appeal, social influence, material wealth, and a prestigious occupation and that they often succeed in attaining these outcomes. The narcissism dimension responsible for these effects is narcissistic admiration. However, whether a desired outcome can be attained does not only depend on motivational factors, such as a narcissistic need for admiration, but also on objectively assessed qualities (Heider, 1958; McClelland, 1987).

For attracting mates, a highly relevant quality is physical attractiveness (Feingold, 1990; Langlois et al., 2000). When asked about their mate preferences, people across cultures indicate that physical attractiveness is an important factor (Shackelford et al., 2005) and in speed-dating studies, physical attractiveness has shown to be a key predictor of dating success (Asendorpf et al., 2011).

For attaining social influence, an important quality is intelligence, as previous research reports a robust positive link between intelligence and leadership emergence (Härtel et al., 2021; Judge et al., 2004; Rubin et al., 2002). Also highly desired in leaders are socio-emotional abilities which describe the ability to understand others’ thoughts and feelings (George, 2000). Indeed, past research reports positive association between emotional intelligence and leadership emergence (Côté et al., 2010; Wolff et al., 2002). As Kellett et al. (2002) showed, both mental and socio-emotional abilities play an important role for attaining social influence.

Intelligence is also a beneficial quality for accumulating wealth and attaining a prestigious occupation, as previous research has linked intelligence to both income and occupational prestige (Strenze, 2007). Thus, on average more intelligent persons are paid more and end up in more prestigious occupations.

Because motivation in the absence of any required objectively assessed qualities is insufficient for attaining a desired outcome (Heider, 1958; McClelland, 1987), we propose that the positive effect of admiration on a given outcome is absent or attenuated if the necessary objectively assessed quality is very low and becomes larger the higher the objectively assessed quality is. Conceptually, moderate to high levels of objective qualities would represent something like a necessary precondition for the positive effects of admiration to emerge. In this case, the association between admiration on mate appeal should be more positive the more physically attractive a person is, the association between admiration and social influence should be more positive the more intelligent and emotionally skilled a person is, and the associations between admiration and wealth and occupational prestige should be more positive the more intelligent a person is. We thus predicted that the effect of admiration on social outcomes should be moderated by specific, objectively assessed qualities.

Several of the social outcomes that we focused on involve judgments of other persons, namely dating partners in the case of mate appeal and peers in the case of social influence. It seems plausible that in these cases not objective qualities per se, but perceived qualities, as subjectively seen by the evaluators, moderate the effect of narcissistic admiration. For example, peers might grant persons high in narcissistic admiration high social status if they perceive them as intelligent, regardless of whether or not this perception is accurate.

Past research indicates that displays of self-confidence and self-promotion, as they typically occur among persons high in admiration (Back et al., 2013), can have very different effects, depending on whether or not the evaluator believes that these displays are backed up by objective qualities. For example, in studies by Tenney and Spellman (2011) participants evaluated vignette target persons who made confident claims about their abilities positively, but only when they believed that these claims were actually true. Consistently, other research has shown that when evaluators feel that a target’s self-confident behavior is not backed up by objective ability, this often evokes negative evaluations in others (Sedikides et al., 2015).

It thus seemed possible that the effects of admiration on social outcomes are moderated by perceived qualities, in the sense that the higher perceived qualities are, the more positive the effect is. Irrespective of whether the focus is on objectively assessed or evaluator-perceived qualities, it seems likely that the same type of quality is relevant for a specific social outcome. That is, evaluators should grant persons high in narcissistic admiration high social status if they perceive them as intelligent and high in socio-emotional abilities, and dating partners should view persons as particularly appealing if they also see them as highly attractive. Thus, the expectations are analogous to the ones above with the difference that perceived, rather than objectively assessed, qualities are the moderator.

In three studies, we investigated potential moderators of the effects of narcissistic admiration on particular desirable social outcomes, namely mate appeal in Study 1, social influence in Study 2, and material wealth and occupational prestige in Study 3. In each study, we examined the moderating role of specific objectively assessed qualities. (The numbering of the studies does not correspond to their temporal order.) In Study 1, we considered physical attractiveness as a moderator of the link between admiration and mate appeal, in Study 2, we considered intelligence and socio-emotional abilities as moderators of the link between admiration and social influence and in Study 3, we considered intelligence as a moderator of the links between admiration and material wealth and occupational prestige. An overview can be found in Figure 1.

Figure 1.
Overview of the interaction effects tested in the three studies
Figure 1.
Overview of the interaction effects tested in the three studies
Close modal

In Studies 1 and 2, which contain social evaluations as outcomes, we also examined the role of evaluator-perceived qualities. In each case, we tested the basic hypothesis that the higher the respective perceived quality is, the more positive the link between admiration and the outcome becomes. Even though our hypotheses concerned only the admiration dimensions of narcissism, we nevertheless explored the main and interaction effects of narcissistic rivalry (results were mainly non-significant) and report them in the SOM (https://osf.io/sjycp).

For Study 1, the study codebook can be found online (https://osf.io/n7dw9/), the data of interest for this research question and the analysis script can be downloaded from the Open Science Framework (OSF) (https://osf.io/yns58/). For Study 2, the data, analysis script and study codebook can also be downloaded from the OSF (https://osf.io/yns58/). For Study 3, we could not make the data publicly available, due to the German data protection law. However, the data can be requested from the German Institute for Economic Research/German Socio-economic Panel Study (e-mail: [email protected]). The analysis script can be downloaded from the OSF (https://osf.io/yns58/).

The analyses of Study 1 were pre-registered (https://osf.io/8f623 [Kraft and Dufner, 2018]). In addition to the pre-registered analyses, we conducted several exploratory analyses. These will be clarified as such.

The goal of Study 1 was to test whether the link between narcissistic admiration and mate appeal is more positive, the more physically attractive a person is. We tested this hypothesis in a large speed dating study and considered both physical attractiveness as rated by uninvolved observers, and evaluator-perceived physical attractiveness, as rated by the potential dating partners.

Generally speaking, in dyadic data (such as data stemming from dyadic speed-dating interactions) three types of effects contribute to the overall variability (next to error variance), namely the target-, perceiver- and relationship effect (Kenny, 1994). The target effect represents how a target is generally seen by others (in this case, how appealing a target generally is for dating partners), the perceiver effect describes how a specific perceiver generally sees others (in this case, the extent to which a perceiver on average sees others as appealing) and the relationship effect represents how a specific perceiver perceives a particular target, above and beyond the respective target- and perceiver-effects (in this case, the unique tendency of a given perceiver to find a specific target appealing).

Thus, the question of whether evaluator-perceived qualities moderate the effect of narcissistic admiration could be addressed on two levels. On the level of the target effect, we tested whether the link between admiration and general mate appeal across all dating partners (i.e., the mate appeal target effect) was stronger for individuals who were generally seen as physically attractive (i.e., who had a high physical attractiveness target effect). On the level of the relationship effect, we tested whether admiration was more positively linked to the unique tendency to find the interaction partner appealing (i.e., the mate appeal relationship effect) for interaction partners who were high in a unique tendency to find the interaction partner physically attractive (i.e., the physical attractiveness relationship effect).

Method

We analyzed data from the “Date me for Science” study (Back & Humberg, 2022; Wurst & Back, 2016), a speed-dating study designed to investigate initial romantic attraction and longitudinally track relationship development. Thus far, three publications exist that are based on the study, yet they all deal with research questions that are distinct from the current one (Humberg et al., in press; Kerr et al., 2020; Wurst et al., 2018a, 2018b). We will only describe the study parts and measures that are relevant here.

Sample and Procedure

The sample included 397 participants (200 females, Mage = 22.87, SD = 2.62) who identified as predominantly heterosexual, aged between 18 and 28, and currently looking for a romantic partner. Please note, that the pre-registration included 400 participants. However, three participants were excluded from the analyses because only missing values were available. During 42 speed-dating sessions, mostly five women and five men had 3-minute speed-dates. Beforehand, narcissism was assessed via an online questionnaire. After each date, participants rated the dating-partner on different attributes, including perceived physical attractiveness and mate appeal. At the end of the speed-dating session, a portrait and a body photograph was taken. The study was approved by the local ethical committee.

Measures

Narcissism. Narcissistic admiration and rivalry were assessed with the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Questionnaire (NARQ ; Back et al., 2013). Participants indicated how strongly they agreed with nine statements for each narcissism dimension (sample item admiration: “I deserve to be treated like a great personality”; sample item rivalry: “I want my rivals to fail”) on a rating scale from 1 (not agree at all) to 6 (agree completely).

Physical attractiveness. Physical attractiveness was rated by observers (opposite-sex research assistants who did not participate in the speed-dating study; ten male observers rated all female participants and ten female observers rated) all male participants) based on the photographs of the participants. They rated the attractiveness of the face and the body separately on a rating scale from 1 (not attractive at all) to 7 (very attractive). We averaged the ratings from each observer for each participant and then we averaged the ratings across all respective observers for each participant. The inter-rater agreement was ICC(3,k)= .91.

Evaluator-perceived attractiveness. Evaluator-perceived attractiveness (perc. Att) was assessed via ratings of the dating partners on the following single item: “This person is good-looking” (1 = do not agree at all to 7 = agree completely). The inter-rater agreement was ICC(2,k)= .77. We calculated the target effect (perc. Att) and the relationship effect (perc. Attrel) using Kenny’s formulas (Kenny & La Voie, 1984).

Mate appeal. Mate appeal was assessed via ratings of the potential dating partners based on three operationalizations. Operationalization 1 was a dichotomous measure of dating success (dating.dicho) and consisted of the following item: “I would like to exchange contact information with this person” (1 = yes; 0 = no). In order to obtain an aggregated measure, we summed the number of dating partners who were willing to exchange contact information with the target and divided this value by the total number of dating partners. Operationalization 2 was a continuous measure of dating success (dating.date) and included the mean value of the following two continuous items: “I would be interested in having another date with this person,” “I want to get to know this person better,” (1 = do not agree at all to 7 = agree completely). Operationalization 3 was a continuous measure and assessed the extent to which a person was viewed as arousing or sexually attractive (dating.arousing). It included the mean value of the following four continuous items: “I feel sexually attracted to this person,” “To me, this person might be a partner for a one-night stand or a sexual affair,” “I found this person sexy/sensual,” and “I think this person is romantically appealing” (1 = do not agree at all to 7 = agree completely). It turned out that the two continuous measures of Operationalization 2 and 3 were very highly correlated (r = .89) and accordingly, we also computed a mate appeal composite score consisting of all items. For this composite score, we computed both the target effect (mate appeal) and the relationship effect (mate appealrel).

Power Analysis

We used the “pmr” package (Lee & Yu, 2013) to gauge the statistical power of our analyses (the code can be found on the OSF page: https://osf.io/xnm2r). Using two-tailed testing and an alpha level of .05, statistical power for finding a medium interaction effect of f2 = 0.15 (Cohen, 1988) was >.90 for the analyses pertaining to mate appeal on the target effect level. On the relationship level, where several ratings were nested within each individual, statistical power was higher.

Results

Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations

Table 1 shows descriptive statistics and reliabilities for all analyzed study variables as well as intercorrelations between them (correlation with gender and age can be found in the Table S1). The attractiveness ratings (ratings made by independent observers and attractiveness target effects) were highly positively correlated. Furthermore, in line with past research, admiration and all operationalizations of attractiveness were positively correlated with mate appeal.

Table 1.
Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations for Study 1
MSDα2345678
1 Adm 3.23 0.77 .82 .35** .14** .14** .13** .12* .11* .12* 
2 Riv 2.14 0.67 .77 -.01 -.05 -.05 -.09 -.12* -.11* 
3 Phy.attractiv 3.23 0.85 .49  .76** .54** .56** .70** .66** 
4 Perc.attractiv 4.20 1.13   .71** .80** .89** .88** 
5 Dating.dicho 0.43 0.30    .90** .82** .87** 
6 Dating.date 3.50 1.29 .97     .89** .95** 
7 Dating.⁠arousing 3.18 1.20 .96      .99** 
8 Mate appeal 3.29 1.20 .97       
MSDα2345678
1 Adm 3.23 0.77 .82 .35** .14** .14** .13** .12* .11* .12* 
2 Riv 2.14 0.67 .77 -.01 -.05 -.05 -.09 -.12* -.11* 
3 Phy.attractiv 3.23 0.85 .49  .76** .54** .56** .70** .66** 
4 Perc.attractiv 4.20 1.13   .71** .80** .89** .88** 
5 Dating.dicho 0.43 0.30    .90** .82** .87** 
6 Dating.date 3.50 1.29 .97     .89** .95** 
7 Dating.⁠arousing 3.18 1.20 .96      .99** 
8 Mate appeal 3.29 1.20 .97       

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; Riv = Narcissistic rivalry; phy.attractiv = average of 10 observers-ratings of physical attractiveness of face and body, perc.attractiv = target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness; dating.dicho = operationalization 1 of mate appeal (one dichotomous item), dating.date = operationalization 2 of mate appeal (two continuous items), dating.arousing = operationalization 3 of mate appeal (four continuous items), mate appeal = target effect of mate appeal (operationalized by six continuous items); *p <.05; ** p < .01.

Moderator effects

The analyses pertaining to effects on the level of the target effect and using the three separate indicators of mate appeal were pre-registered. The analyses pertaining to the mate appeal composite score were not. We used linear regressions to test whether attractiveness (physical attractiveness) moderated the association between narcissistic admiration and mate appeal (using the three separate indicators). In each model, we included the two (z-standardized) independent variables (admiration and observer-rated physical attractiveness) as well as their interaction effect as predictors (Aiken et al., 2003). As Table 2 shows, physical attractiveness did not moderate the relation between narcissistic admiration and mate appeal.

Table 2.
Linear Regression Models, Predicting Mate Appeal (three different Indicators) by Narcissistic Admiration, Attractiveness, and Their Interaction
 Operationalization 1
Dating.dicho
(Model 1) 
 Operationalization 2
Dating.date
(Model 2) 
 Operationalization 3
Dating.arousal
(Model 3) 
 b SE t P  b SE t p  b SE t p 
Intercept .00 .04 0.20 .984  -.00 .04 -0.10 .921  -.00 .04 -0.15 .882 
Adm .05 .04 1.09 .276  .04 .04 0.83 .409  .01 .04 0.19 .851 
phy.attractiv .54 .04 12.40 <.001  .56 .04 13.11 <.001  .69 .04 18.80 <.001 
Adm x phy.attractiv -.02 .04 -0.54 .587  -.05 .04 -1.11 .266  .01 .04 0.21 .838 
 Operationalization 1
Dating.dicho
(Model 1) 
 Operationalization 2
Dating.date
(Model 2) 
 Operationalization 3
Dating.arousal
(Model 3) 
 b SE t P  b SE t p  b SE t p 
Intercept .00 .04 0.20 .984  -.00 .04 -0.10 .921  -.00 .04 -0.15 .882 
Adm .05 .04 1.09 .276  .04 .04 0.83 .409  .01 .04 0.19 .851 
phy.attractiv .54 .04 12.40 <.001  .56 .04 13.11 <.001  .69 .04 18.80 <.001 
Adm x phy.attractiv -.02 .04 -0.54 .587  -.05 .04 -1.11 .266  .01 .04 0.21 .838 

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; phy.attractiv = average of 10 observers-ratings of physical attractiveness of face and body, dating.dicho = operationalization 1 of mate appeal (one dichotomous item), dating.date = operationalization 2 of mate appeal (two continuous items), dating.arousing = operationalization 3 of mate appeal (four continuous items); SE = standard error; t = t-value; p = p-value. b can be interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables.

Furthermore, we also used linear regressions to test whether attractiveness (physical attractiveness and target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness) moderated the association between narcissistic admiration and the mate appeal composite. In each model, we included the two (z-standardized) independent variables (either admiration and observer-rated physical attractiveness or admiration and target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness) as well as their interaction effect as predictors (Aiken et al., 2003). As Table 3 shows, neither physical attractiveness nor the target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness moderated the relation between narcissistic admiration and mate appeal. For narcissism, age and gender effects have been reported (Grijalva, Newman, et al., 2015; Wetzel et al., 2020) and the same is true for physical attractiveness (Greenlees & McGrew, 1994; Webb et al., 1989) and even though in the current data only gender and age correlated with physical attractiveness (S1), these variables qualify as potentially confounding third variables. We, therefore reran the models, controlling for gender and age, as well as the interaction effects between gender and attractiveness (for both physical attractiveness and the target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness) and between age and attractiveness (again for both physical attractiveness and the target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness). Results were nearly identical. Furthermore, there was a main effect for gender on mate appeal but not for age (Supplemental Online Material S2 and S3).

Table 3.
Linear Regression Models, Predicting Mate Appeal by Narcissistic Admiration, Attractiveness, and Their Interaction
bSETp
Model 1 Intercept -.01 .04 -0.14 .893 
 Adm .02 .04 0.45 .655 
 phy.Attractiv .66 .04 17.26 <.001 
 Adm x phy. Attractiv -.01 .04 -0.31 .759 
Model 2 Intercept .00 .02 0.08 .933 
 Adm .00 .02 0.05 .958 
 perc. Attractiv .88 .02 35.85 <.001 
 Adm x perc. Attractiveness .00 .03 0.18 .861 
bSETp
Model 1 Intercept -.01 .04 -0.14 .893 
 Adm .02 .04 0.45 .655 
 phy.Attractiv .66 .04 17.26 <.001 
 Adm x phy. Attractiv -.01 .04 -0.31 .759 
Model 2 Intercept .00 .02 0.08 .933 
 Adm .00 .02 0.05 .958 
 perc. Attractiv .88 .02 35.85 <.001 
 Adm x perc. Attractiveness .00 .03 0.18 .861 

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; phy. attractiv = average of 10 observers-ratings of physical attractiveness of face and body; perc. attractiv = target effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness; mate appeal = target effect of mate appeal; SE = standard error; t = t-value; p = p-value. b can be interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables.

We then tested whether evaluator-perceived attractiveness moderated the effect of admiration on mate appeal on the relationship level. We ran the same models as above, but used the standardized relationship effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness as a predictor, together with standardized admiration and the evaluator-perceived attractiveness * admiration interaction. The relationship effect of mate appeal (mate appealrel) was the outcome variable. We ran multilevel models and included a random intercept for dyad. As Table 4 shows, the relationship effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness had a strong main effect on mate appeal, but this effect was not moderated by narcissistic admiration. We reran the models, controlling for gender and age, as well as the interaction effect between gender and the relationship effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness and the one between age and the relationship effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness. The pattern of the results was nearly identical (see Supplemental Online Material S4).

Table 4.
Multilevel Regression Model, Predicting the Relationship Effect of Mate Appeal by Narcissistic Admiration, the Relationship Effect of Evaluator-Perceived Attractiveness, and Their Interaction
bSEtp
Model 3 Intercept -.00 .02 -0.10 .924 
 Adm .03 .02 1.50 .134 
 perc. Attrel .87 .02 47.94 <.001 
 Adm x perc. Attrel -.01 .02 -0.34 .735 
bSEtp
Model 3 Intercept -.00 .02 -0.10 .924 
 Adm .03 .02 1.50 .134 
 perc. Attrel .87 .02 47.94 <.001 
 Adm x perc. Attrel -.01 .02 -0.34 .735 

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; perc.Attrel = relationship effect of evaluator-perceived attractiveness; SE = standard deviation; t = t-value; p = p-value. b can interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables, the bs represent standardized regression coefficients.

Discussion

In Study 1, our goal was to test whether the link between narcissistic admiration and mate appeal is more positive for people who are physically attractive than for people who are less attractive. We tested interaction effects for attractiveness, as rated by independent observers and also as rated by the dating partners, and we considered effects on both the target effect (three separated indicators and mean value) and the relationship effect level (for mean value). The results did not support the hypothesis. Instead, they suggested that both admiration and physical attractiveness are correlated with mate appeal, but that they do not interact. Interestingly, admiration was positively correlated with mate appeal, but this association dropped to non-significance when physical attractiveness was controlled. Such a pattern of results first with previous research indicating that individuals scoring high in narcissism are appealing partly because they put more effort into their appearance and are therefore more physically attractive (Dufner et al., 2013). Importantly for the current research question, the effect of admiration does not seem to depend on physical attractiveness.

The goal of Study 2 was to test whether intelligence and socio-emotional abilities moderate the link between narcissistic admiration and social influence in small groups. Again, we considered both objectively assessed intelligence and socio-emotional abilities, and evaluator perceptions of these qualities. For evaluator perceptions, we again considered effects on the level of the target effect and on the level of the relationship effect.

Method

Study 2 was a comprehensive study on personality on social behavior called the LeiCo-Study. We will only describe the study parts and measures that are relevant the current research question. A full study description can be found in the codebook online: https://osf.io/zc9ns. Thus far, four publications exist that are based on the study, but all deal with different research questions (Dufner et al., 2024; Grosz et al., 2020; Rau et al., 2021; Schliebener et al., 2023).

Sample and Procedure

Participants were recruited via social networks and notice-boards. They had to be between 18 and 35 years old in order to participate and their mother tongue had to be German. Psychology students were excluded. Participants were paid 70 Euros if they completed all study parts. A total of 256 (78% female) participants did so. Twenty-two participants did not have valid data for all study parts (online questionnaire, round-robin data, etc.). We did not exclude these participants in general, but rather included their values into all analyses for which they had valid data. An overview of the available data can be found on the osf (https://osf.io/pkaxq?view_only=6acdb3cdf2dc45c1a30f69e6c7efacd3). Participants were between 18 and 35 years old (M = 24.57, SD = 4.38), and most of them were students (79%). The study was approved by the ethics board of the German Psychological Society.

First, participants completed an online questionnaire in which narcissism was assessed. Then, participants attended group sessions (2 hours each) and afterwards a laboratory session, in which intelligence and socio-emotional abilities were assessed (2 hours). For the group sessions, participants were assigned to 50 same-sex groups of four to six (12 groups of 4, 20 groups of 5, 18 groups of 6) persons each. Participants were unacquainted with their group members before the first session. Each group met twice during the course of two consecutive weeks, once for Group Session A and once for Group Session B. Session A included three competitive tasks, a cognitive task, a moral dilemma, and a debate, during which participants had to defend a position assigned to them. Session B involved tasks that were cooperative in nature. That is, participants played a getting-acquainted game, recounted various experiences, and created a common group logo. A detailed description of the tasks can be found in the study codebook. The two group sessions were seven days apart from each other and their ordering was balanced across participants. Participants were filmed by four unobtrusive video cameras during the group interactions. Round-robin ratings of social influence, perceived intelligence, and perceived socio-emotional abilities were gathered at the beginning and at the end of each group session. We analyzed the ratings provided at the end of the second sessions as by that time participants had the largest amount of information available about each other.

Measures

Narcissism. Narcissistic admiration and rivalry were again assessed with the NARQ (Back et al., 2013).

Intelligence. Intelligence was assessed via three distinct measures, which were used in combination for a comprehensive assessment of intelligence before (Geukes et al., 2019). Participants completed a 15-item short version of Raven’s (Raven et al., 1962) progressive matrices (Intreasoning; Denissen et al., 2011), which is a measure of fluid intelligence. As the second measure of intelligence, participants were presented with a task from the working memory test (WM, Oberauer et al., 2000), assessing working memory capacity (Intworking). Participants were presented with a list of simple mathematical equations and had to indicate for each of them whether or not it is correct. Simultaneously, they had to memorize the last digit of the result. Later, participants had to repeat the memorized digits in a correct order. Each digit was treated as an item and coded with 1 (correct) and 0 (false) in a recall test. The third measure was the multiple-choice vocabulary test B (Intverbal; MWT-B; Lehrl et al., 1995). This test consists of 36 sets of five (pseudo) words, only one of which is a correctly spelled word. The total score was calculated via the number of correct answers. The score of one participant were set to missing, because the score of this person on the MWT-B was detected as an extreme negative outlier (only one answer was correct, which was even far beyond chance level and indicated that the participant might have sabotaged the assessment).

Socio-emotional abilities. Socio-emotional abilities were assessed via two distinct measures. The first one tapped into emotion recognition ability. Participants completed three subtasks from the Test Battery for the Perception and Recognition of Facial Expressions of Emotion (EMO, Wilhelm et al., 2014). In two tasks, pictures of individuals displaying a specific emotion were shown. Participants had to choose which out of the six possible emotions (sad, disgust, fear, happy, anger, surprise) was displayed. In the first task, they had to identify the emotion from composite faces that consisted of an upper half and a lower half showing different emotional expressions. One half should be classified, the other half was to be ignored, indicated by prompt words “TOP” or “BOTTOM”. In the second task, they had to identify emotions of different intensity from upright and inverted moving faces. In the third task, a matrix of nine pictures was presented. A majority of these pictures showed a specific emotion, while the remaining pictures showed other emotions. Participants had to identify the pictures that did not show the prominent emotion. For each task, the mean number of correct answers was calculated. The three tasks were positively correlated with each other (mean r = .45; for details, see Table S9). Therefore, we calculated a total score (Wilhelm et al., 2014). Again, the scores of one participant who showed extremely low performance (z = -4) and likely did not 2016), but inconsistent with other parts that found negative links between narcissism and socio-emotional) were set to missing (there were no further exclusions).

The second measure, Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC, Dziobek et al., 2006) tapped into perspective taking ability. This video-based test measures the ability to recognize intentions and thoughts of others. Participants was a short film showing four persons at a dinner party. The video stopped several times and participants were requested to answer questions concerning the actors’ emotions, thoughts, and intentions. If their answer matched with a pre-defined solution, the item was solved. Again, the mean number of correct answers were calculated. Previous research indicates high reliability and validity of both the EMO (Geiger et al., 2021; Olderbak et al., 2019) and the MASC (Dziobek et al., 2006; Fossati et al., 2018).

Evaluator-perceived intelligence. Evaluator-perceived intelligence was assessed via round-robin peer-ratings on the following item: “This person is clever” (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly disagree). As an indicator of the evaluator-perceived intelligence, we used the target effect (perc.Int) and the relationship effect (perc.Intrel) using the R package TripleR (Schönbrodt et al., 2012) from Kenny’s Social Relations Model (1994).

Evaluator-perceived emotional abilities. Evaluator-perceived emotional abilities were assessed via round-robin peer-ratings during the laboratory sessions on the following item: “This person is compassionate” (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly disagree). We again computed the target effect (perc.compassion) and the relationship effect (perc.Empathyrel) based on this item.

Social Influence. Social influence was assessed via round-robin peer-ratings on the following three items: “This person has a lot of power and influence on our group,” “This person has a high status (respect, prominence) within our group,” and “This person would be a good leader of our group.” (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly disagree). We calculated the target effect (SI) and the relationship effect (SIrel) for each item and then aggregated the three items as indicators of the social influence that group members ascribed to a participant.

Power Analysis

We used the same approach as in Study 1 to gauge our statistical power of our analyses (code: https://osf.io/hygcz). Using two-tailed testing and an alpha level of .05, statistical power for finding a medium-sized interaction effect of f2 = 0.15 (Cohen, 1988) was >.95 for the analyses pertaining to social influence on the target effect level. On the relationship level, where several ratings were nested within each individual, statistical power was higher.

Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations

Table 5 shows descriptive statistics and reliabilities for all study variables and their intercorrelations (correlations with gender and age can be found in Table S11). The internal consistency of the MASC was low (α = .50), which impairs the interpretability of results based on this measure. Furthermore, Intreasoning was positively correlated with both other operationalizations of intelligence (Intworking and Intverbal), whereas Intverbal and Intworking were uncorrelated. Furthermore, the operationalizations of socio-emotional abilities (EMO and MASC) were positively correlated. The target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence was positively correlated with Intreasoning and Intworking but not with Intverbal or the operationalizations of emotional abilities. The target effect of evaluator-perceived emotional abilities (perc.Empathy) was negatively correlated with narcissism but not with any of the other variables. In line with past research, admiration, objectively assessed intelligence (at least measured via Intreasoning) and the target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence were positively correlated with social influence.

Table 5.
Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations for Study 2
MSDα2345678910
1 Adm 2.95 0.84 .85 .40** -.06 -.03 -.02 .05 -.17** .00 -.15* .17* 
2 Riv 2.25 0.72 .79 -.12 -.12* .05 .04 .00 -.09 -.23* -.04 
3 EMO 0.74 0.06 .86  .29** .33** .24** .12 .09 .02 .06 
4 MASC 0.81 0.08 .50   .13 .05 .08 .03 -.08 .03 
5 Intreasoning 8.51 3.04 .69    .28** .22** .18** -.08 .17* 
6 Intworking 34.21 12.94 .93     -.01 .10 -.13* .03 
7 Intverbal 29.32 2.90 .75      .09 -.05 .05 
8 perc.Int 4.46 0.57       .12 .63** 
9 per.Empathy 4.57 0.51        .07 
10 SI 3.95 0.79 .88         
MSDα2345678910
1 Adm 2.95 0.84 .85 .40** -.06 -.03 -.02 .05 -.17** .00 -.15* .17* 
2 Riv 2.25 0.72 .79 -.12 -.12* .05 .04 .00 -.09 -.23* -.04 
3 EMO 0.74 0.06 .86  .29** .33** .24** .12 .09 .02 .06 
4 MASC 0.81 0.08 .50   .13 .05 .08 .03 -.08 .03 
5 Intreasoning 8.51 3.04 .69    .28** .22** .18** -.08 .17* 
6 Intworking 34.21 12.94 .93     -.01 .10 -.13* .03 
7 Intverbal 29.32 2.90 .75      .09 -.05 .05 
8 perc.Int 4.46 0.57       .12 .63** 
9 per.Empathy 4.57 0.51        .07 
10 SI 3.95 0.79 .88         

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; Riv = Narcissistic rivalry; EMO = measure of socioemotional ability: mean of scores on three task of the Test Battery for Perception and Recognition of Facial Expressions of Emotion; MASC = measure of socioemotional ability: Movie for the Assessment for the Social Cognition; Intreasoning = measure of intelligence: Raven matrices test (15 items); Intworking = measure of intelligence: Working memory test (60 items), Intverbal = measure of intelligence: Multiple choice vocabulary test (37 items); perc.Int= target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence (group mean added for the calculation of mean and standard deviation); perc.Empathy= target effect of evaluator-perceived emotional abilities (group mean added for the calculation of mean and standard deviation; SI = mean of the target effect of social influence (group mean added for the calculation of mean and standard deviation); * p < .05; ** p < .01.

Moderator effects

We used the same approach as in Study 1 to test moderator effects. As intercorrelations between the different measures of intelligence and socio-emotional abilities were only relatively weak, we computed a separate model for each measure. As Table 6 shows, in no case was the interaction between admiration and the respective measure significant. Admiration and intelligence (measured with Intreasoning and target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence) had positive main effects on social influence. Like in Study 1, we reran the models, controlling for gender and age as well as the interactions between gender and the different measures of intelligence and socio-emotional abilities and between age and the different measures of intelligence and socio-emotional abilities. The pattern of the results was nearly identical. However, both main effects of intelligence (measured via Intreasoning and target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence) were no longer statistically significant, instead there was a significant age effect in these models (see Supplemental Online Material S12).

Table 6.
Linear Regression Models; Predicting Social Influence by Narcissistic Admiration and Socio-Emotional Ability/Intelligence, and Their Interaction
bSETp
Model 1 Intercept .03 .05 0.42 .675 
 Adm .13 .05 2.51 .013 
 Intreasoning .13 .05 2.62 .009 
 Adm x Intreasoning .04 .05 0.70 .485 
Model 2 Intercept .00 .05 0.03 .980 
 Adm .12 .05 2.52 .012 
 Intworking .01 .05 0.26 .792 
 Adm x Intworking .01 .05 0.22 .830 
Model 3 Intercept -.00 .05 -0.07 .946 
Adm .13 .05 2.67 .008 
Intverbal .05 .05 1.14 .256 
Adm x Intverbal -.03 .05 -0.60 .552 
Model 4 Intercept .01 .05 0.31 .760 
 Adm .13 .05 2.70 .008 
 EMO .05 .05 1.15 .253 
 Adm x EMO .07 .05 1.54 .124 
Model 5 Intercept .00 .05 0.04 .967 
 Adm .12 .05 2.58 .010 
 MASC .02 .05 0.50 .615 
 Adm x MASC -.03 .05 -0.64 .526 
Model 6 Intercept -.00 .04 -0.23 .818 
 Adm .12 .04 3.20 .002 
 perc.Int 1.14 .09 12.74 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Int -.11 .09 -1.29 .198 
Model 7 Intercept .00 .05 0.03 .977 
 Adm .13 .05 2.69 .008 
 perc.Empathy .15 .11 1.40 .162 
 Adm x perc.Empathy -.02 .11 -0.19 .846 
bSETp
Model 1 Intercept .03 .05 0.42 .675 
 Adm .13 .05 2.51 .013 
 Intreasoning .13 .05 2.62 .009 
 Adm x Intreasoning .04 .05 0.70 .485 
Model 2 Intercept .00 .05 0.03 .980 
 Adm .12 .05 2.52 .012 
 Intworking .01 .05 0.26 .792 
 Adm x Intworking .01 .05 0.22 .830 
Model 3 Intercept -.00 .05 -0.07 .946 
Adm .13 .05 2.67 .008 
Intverbal .05 .05 1.14 .256 
Adm x Intverbal -.03 .05 -0.60 .552 
Model 4 Intercept .01 .05 0.31 .760 
 Adm .13 .05 2.70 .008 
 EMO .05 .05 1.15 .253 
 Adm x EMO .07 .05 1.54 .124 
Model 5 Intercept .00 .05 0.04 .967 
 Adm .12 .05 2.58 .010 
 MASC .02 .05 0.50 .615 
 Adm x MASC -.03 .05 -0.64 .526 
Model 6 Intercept -.00 .04 -0.23 .818 
 Adm .12 .04 3.20 .002 
 perc.Int 1.14 .09 12.74 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Int -.11 .09 -1.29 .198 
Model 7 Intercept .00 .05 0.03 .977 
 Adm .13 .05 2.69 .008 
 perc.Empathy .15 .11 1.40 .162 
 Adm x perc.Empathy -.02 .11 -0.19 .846 

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; EMO = measure of socioemotional ability: average of three tasks of the Test Battery for the Perception and Recognition of Facial Expressions of Emotion; MASC = measure of socioemotional ability: Movie for the Assessment for the Social Cognition; Intreasoning = measure of intelligence: Raven matrices test; Intworking = measure of intelligence: Working memory test, Intverbal = measure of intelligence: Multiple choice vocabulary test, perc.Int = target effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence; perc.Empathy = target effect of evaluator-perceived emotional abilities; SE = standard error; t = t-value; p = p-value; b can be interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables; Please note that β above 1 is unusual, but might occur due to mulitcollinarity.

We then turned to the relationship level. That is, we ran the same models as above, but predicted the social influence relationship by the relationship effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence or emotional abilities respectively, narcissistic admiration, and the interaction between the two. As Table 7 shows, in no case was the relation between narcissistic admiration and the relationship effect of social influence moderated by the relationship effect of peer-perceived emotional abilities (perc.Empathyrel), and the relationship effect of peer perceived intelligence (perc.Intrel). We reran the models, controlling for gender and age, as well as the interaction effect between gender and the relationship of evaluator-perceived intelligence and socio-emotional abilities and the one between age and the relationship of evaluator-perceived intelligence and socio-emotional abilities. The pattern of the results was nearly identical as the one reported above (see Supplemental Material S13).

Table 7.
Multilevel Regression Models, Predicting Social Influence by Narcissistic Admiration, the Relationship Effect of Peer-Perceived Intelligence/Emotional Abilities, and Their Interaction
bSETp
Model 8 Intercept -.00 .01 0.00 .999 
 Adm .00 .01 0.00 .999 
 perc.Intrel .48 .03 16.28 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Intrel .04 .03 1.35 .178 
Model 9 Intercept -.00 .02 0.00 .999 
 Adm .00 .02 0.00 .999 
 perc.Empathyrel .16 .03 5.23 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Empathyrel .05 .03 1.76 .079 
bSETp
Model 8 Intercept -.00 .01 0.00 .999 
 Adm .00 .01 0.00 .999 
 perc.Intrel .48 .03 16.28 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Intrel .04 .03 1.35 .178 
Model 9 Intercept -.00 .02 0.00 .999 
 Adm .00 .02 0.00 .999 
 perc.Empathyrel .16 .03 5.23 <.001 
 Adm x perc.Empathyrel .05 .03 1.76 .079 

Notes. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; perc.Intrel= relationship effect of evaluator-perceived intelligence; perc.Empathyrel= relationship effect of evaluator-perceived emotional abilities. SE = standard error; t = t-value; p = p-value. b can be interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables.

Discussion

In Study 2, our goal was to test whether the link between narcissism and social influence is more positive for people who possess higher intelligence or socio-emotional abilities than for persons scoring lower on these abilities. We considered both objectively assessed and evaluator-perceived qualities. The results did not support our hypothesis. Instead, they suggested that both narcissistic admiration as well as intelligence (both objectively assessed and evaluator-perceived) positively predicted social influence, but they do not interact. On the whole then, there was no convincing evidence that the link between admiration and social influence is stronger among persons who are—or are perceived as—particularly intelligent or high in socio-emotional abilities.

The goal of Study 3 was to test whether the link between admiration and material wealth and the one between admiration and occupational prestige are more positive the higher the objectively assessed intelligence is.

Method

We analyzed data from the Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS, Richter & Schupp, 2012) of the German Socio –Economic Panel (SOEP; Wagner et al., 2007). The SOEP-IS is a nationally representative longitudinal study of private households in Germany and includes an annually changing set of questions and innovative content. The same dataset has also been analyzed in the above-mentioned publications by Leckelt et al. (2019) and by Leder et al. (2021). However, none of these publications investigated interaction effects between narcissistic admiration and intelligence. We will only describe the study parts and measures that are relevant for the current research question.

Sample and Procedure

A total of 1,477 participants (52% women) took part in the SOEP-IS survey in 2013 (the year when narcissism was assessed). For 1,476 of them, data for all relevant variables were available. Three individuals were excluded from the analyses because they reported an income of 0 Euros. This means that the data from 1,473 participants were available. The average age was M = 51.34 (SD = 17.27) in 2013. The survey is conducted by Kantar Public in the form of personal computer-assisted interviews (CAPI) by specially trained interviewers on a representative basis throughout Germany.

Measures

Narcissism was measured in 2013 and intelligence in 2014. Material wealth and occupational prestige were assessed annually (currently available until 2017). For the current analyses, we used the averages of available respective data from 2014 to 2017 (correlations between the annual assessments can be found in the Supplemental Material S18 and S19).

Narcissism. Narcissistic admiration and rivalry were assessed with the short version of the NARQ (NARQ-S; Leckelt et al., 2018).

Intelligence. Intelligence was assessed via two distinct measures. The first one was a measure of crystallized verbal intelligence (Intverbal), namely the Multiple-Choice Vocabulary Test [Mehrfachwahl-Wortschatztest] (MWT-A; Lehrl et al., 1995), a parallel version of the measure used in Study 2. The second measure was a test of processing speed (Intproc.Speed), namely the Symbol Correspondence Test (SCT; Lang et al., 2007), which resembles the symbol-digit-modalities-test (Smith, 1995). Participants were asked to match as many numbers and symbols as possible within 90 seconds according to a given reference list, which was shown on the screen. The total score was calculated by subtracting the number of incorrect matches from the correct ones. Sum scores after 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds were provided. We used the sum score after 90 seconds, as it contained the most information.

Material wealth. Material wealth was measured via income. For the sake of comparability, only persons who have had a full-time job for at least one year during the time of assessment were included in the analysis. Participants declared their current gross labor income in Euros in an open-ended format. Three individuals were excluded from the analysis because they reported an income of 0 Euros. The calculated mean of the assessed time points (currently available until 2017) was log-transformed, because the distribution of income was skewed (Aitchison & Brown, 1957). Results without log transformation are highly similar and can be found in the Supplement (S21 & S23).

Occupational prestige. Participants’ current occupation was assessed via open text fields. Their entries were scored with regard to the occupational prestige score index (ISCO-88/ISCO-08, Ganzeboom & Treiman, 1996). The index ranges from 6 (e.g., hunter) to 78 (e.g., medical doctor). We calculated the mean value across the years.

Power Analysis

We used the same approach as in Studies 1 and 2 to gauge the statistical power of our analyses (code: https://osf.io/629gz). Using two-tailed testing and an alpha level of .05, statistical power for finding a medium interaction effect of f2 = 0.15 (Cohen, 1988) was >.99.

Results

Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations

Table 8 shows descriptive statistics and reliabilities for all analyzed variables as well as their intercorrelations (correlations with gender and age can be found in the Supplemental Online Material S20). Material wealth and occupational prestige were positively correlated. The two operationalizations of intelligence were also positively correlated, albeit weakly. We therefore decided to conduct our hypothesis tests separately for each intelligence measure. In line with past research, admiration was positively correlated with income and occupational prestige and the same was true for intelligence (at least for Intverbal).

Table 8.
Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations for Study 3
MSDα23456
1 Adm 2.04 1.08 .81 .51** -.05 .16** .11** .18** 
2 Riv 1.74 0.78 .62 -.13** .04 .01 .06 
3 Intverbal 30.02 3.77 .81  .15** .27** .40** 
4 Intproc.Speed 28.66 10.33   .09* .16** 
5 Income 3393.20 2193.14    .51** 
6 Prestige 45.92 12.48     
MSDα23456
1 Adm 2.04 1.08 .81 .51** -.05 .16** .11** .18** 
2 Riv 1.74 0.78 .62 -.13** .04 .01 .06 
3 Intverbal 30.02 3.77 .81  .15** .27** .40** 
4 Intproc.Speed 28.66 10.33   .09* .16** 
5 Income 3393.20 2193.14    .51** 
6 Prestige 45.92 12.48     

Note. Adm = Narcissistic admiration; Riv = Narcissistic rivalry; Intverbal = intelligence (verbal) measured via MWT (Multiple-Choice Vocabulary); Intproc.Speed = intelligence (processing speed) measured via SCT (Symbol Correspondence Test); Income in Euros (log-transformed version for the correlations), Prestige = occupational prestige score index; * p < .05; ** p < .01.

Moderator Effects

We used the same approach as in Studies 1 and 2 to test moderator effects. As Table 9 shows, the two interaction effects between admiration and intelligence as operationalized via the Intverbal, on income (Model 1) and on prestige (Model 3) attained statistical significance. The association between narcissistic admiration and income and prestige (Figure 1) was indeed more positive when intelligence was high than when intelligence was low. We also ran simple slope tests using the R package rockchalk (Johnson & Johnson, 2019). For individuals with mean levels of intelligence (Model 1[income]: t(584) = 3.022, p =.003; Model 3 [prestige]: t(612) = 5.018, p <.001) and with high levels of intelligence (Model 1[[income]: t(584) = 3.882, p <.001; Model 3[prestige]: t(612) = 5.212, p <.001) the slopes were significant. For individuals with low levels of intelligence the slopes were not significant (Model 1[income]: t(584) = 0.250, p =.802; Model 3[prestige]: t(612) = 1.771, p =.0771).

Table 9.
Linear Regression Models, Predicting Material Wealth and Occupational Prestige by Narcissistic Admiration, Intelligence, and Their Interaction
Income
(Model 1/Model 2)
Prestige
(Model 3/Model 4)
 b SE t p  b SE t p 
Intercept -.03 .04 -0.70 .486  -.04 .04 -1.16 .245 
Adm .12 .04 3.00 .003  .18 .04 4.99 <.001 
Intverbal .25 .04 6.15 <.001  .38 .04 10.31 <.001 
Adm x Intverbal .10 .04 2.75 .006  .10 .04 2.73 .006 
Intercept -.05 .05 -1.00 .316  -.09 .04 -2.03 .042 
Adm .13 .05 2.77 .006  .18 .05 3.93 <.001 
Intproc.Speed .08 .05 1.75 .082  .16 .05 3.41 .001 
Adm x Intproc.Speed -.06 .05 -1.34 .182  -.05 .05 -1.07 .284 
Income
(Model 1/Model 2)
Prestige
(Model 3/Model 4)
 b SE t p  b SE t p 
Intercept -.03 .04 -0.70 .486  -.04 .04 -1.16 .245 
Adm .12 .04 3.00 .003  .18 .04 4.99 <.001 
Intverbal .25 .04 6.15 <.001  .38 .04 10.31 <.001 
Adm x Intverbal .10 .04 2.75 .006  .10 .04 2.73 .006 
Intercept -.05 .05 -1.00 .316  -.09 .04 -2.03 .042 
Adm .13 .05 2.77 .006  .18 .05 3.93 <.001 
Intproc.Speed .08 .05 1.75 .082  .16 .05 3.41 .001 
Adm x Intproc.Speed -.06 .05 -1.34 .182  -.05 .05 -1.07 .284 

Note. Nmodel 1 & 2 = 591, Nmodel 3 & 4 =616; Adm = Narcissistic admiration; Intverbal = intelligence (verbal) measured via MWT (Multiple-Choice Vocabulary); Intproc.Speed = intelligence (processing speed) measured via SCT (Symbol Correspondence Test); Income = Income in Euro (log-transformed version), Prestige = occupational prestige score index; SE = standard error; t = t-value; p = p-value. b can be interpreted as a standardized estimate (β) because the models were run with standardized variables.

In all cases with intelligence operationalized via the Intporc.Speed the interaction effects between narcissistic admiration and intelligence were non-significant. Like in the first two studies, we reran the models, controlling for gender and age as well as the interaction effect between gender and intelligence and the one between age and intelligence. The pattern of the results was nearly identical. As in the original analyses, the interaction effects between narcissism admiration and verbal intelligence (operationalized via Intverbal) on income and prestige were significant, whereas all other interaction effects were not (see S22).

Figure 2.
Left panel: Interaction Effect between Admiration and Verbal Intelligence (MWT) on Income (all Variables were Z-standardized); Right Panel: Interaction Effect between Admiration and Verbal Intelligence (MWT) on Prestige (all Variables were Z-standardized)
Figure 2.
Left panel: Interaction Effect between Admiration and Verbal Intelligence (MWT) on Income (all Variables were Z-standardized); Right Panel: Interaction Effect between Admiration and Verbal Intelligence (MWT) on Prestige (all Variables were Z-standardized)
Close modal

Discussion

In Study 3, our goal was to test whether the links of admiration with material wealth and occupational prestige are more positive for people who are rather intelligent than for those who are not. The results matched with this hypothesis, albeit only for verbal intelligence. Thus, findings suggest that people who score high on narcissistic admiration are especially likely to attain material wealth and occupational prestige if they are also highly verbally intelligent. In contrast, the association between narcissistic admiration and the two outcomes does not seem to depend on numeric aspects of intelligence.

The goal of the current research was to test whether the links of narcissism with desirable social outcomes are dependent on the presence of specific qualities. To address this possibility comprehensively, we considered three distinct social outcomes that have all been linked to narcissism in past research.

Replicating previous findings, narcissistic admiration was positively linked with each of the relevant outcomes. That is, it was correlated with high mate appeal in Study 1, to social influence in Study 2, and to material wealth and occupational prestige in Study 3. This corroborates the claim from the NARC that the admiration dimension of grandiose narcissism mainly leads to positive social outcomes. Furthermore, with few exceptions, the objectively assessed qualities were also positively correlated with the respective outcomes. That is, physical attractiveness was linked to mate appeal in Study 1 and intelligence was linked to social influence in Study 2 as well as to material wealth and occupation prestige in Study 3. These results indicate that the findings from the literature that we derived our hypotheses from are credible and robust and that our research designs were generally suitable for detecting the effects. Also in line with the literature, narcissism was positively linked to physical attractiveness (Holtzman & Strube, 2010; Weber et al., 2021) and not consistently linked to intelligence (Zajenkowski & Dufner, 2020). Narcissism was also unrelated to socio-emotional abilities, which is consistent with parts of the literature (e.g., Czarna et al., 2016), but inconsistent with other parts that found negative links between narcissism and socio-emotional abilities (e.g., Mota et al., 2019). Furthermore, previous research also indicates that emotional intelligence predicts popularity in social networks not initially, but only over longer time periods (Czarna et al., 2016). Future research should explore this issue more comprehensively. Most importantly in the current case, we found only little evidence for our general hypothesis that objectively assessed qualities moderate the effect of narcissistic admiration on social outcomes.

There was notable exception, however. Verbal intelligence moderated the effects of narcissistic admiration in Study 3. The effect appeared for both outcomes in the expected direction and the p-values were smaller than .01. The main effects of the two types of intelligence indicate verbal intelligence was a more relevant predictor than numeric intelligence (which only had negligible effects) for material wealth and occupational prestige. From this perspective, it seems quite natural that the effects of narcissism are contingent on people’s level of verbal, but not their numeric intelligence. Thus, when it comes to job-related outcomes, such as one’s income and the level of prestige one’s job entails, a combination of strong narcissistic admiration and high verbal intelligence might be especially beneficial. Of course, before any firm conclusions can be drawn, future research should try to replicate the findings from Study 3.

Whereas we could replicate main effects of objectively assessed qualities on the respective social outcomes in most cases, this was not the case in Study 2 for our measures of objectively assessed socio-emotional abilities. That is, in contrast to the study by George (2000), we could not find a positive relation between socio-emotional abilities and social influence. For one of our measures, the MASC, insufficient reliability might have accounted for the null effect. Yet, it is an open question why our second measure, EMO, was also unrelated to social influence. The finding indicates that being able to recognize emotions in others may not be crucially important for gaining social influence in newly formed groups.

In virtually all cases when the desirable social outcome represented the judgments of other persons, evaluator-perceived qualities were positive predictors. In Study 2, for example, we found that people who are perceived as intelligent and compassionate (at least at the level of the relationship effect) were granted higher social status. These findings indicate that not just objectively assessed qualities per se are important, but also the extent to which these qualities are attributed to target persons. It is conceivable that such perceived qualities mediate the effect of objectively assessed qualities, for example in the sense that a highly intelligent target person is to some extent accurately recognized as such and will therefore be granted high social status. This process is also described in the lens model (Brunswik, 1956; Nestler & Back, 2013). Yet then, the correlations between objectively assessed intelligence and peer-perceived qualities were rather small (which is unsurprising given the minimal acquaintance paradigm), which leaves a large portion of variance in peer-perceived qualities unexplained. Given the relevance of peer-perceived qualities, it will be an important task for future research to investigate which factors other than the relevant qualities themselves affect these peer-perceptions (for example time perspective of acquaintance).

Our investigation was comprehensive in the sense that it addressed multiple key outcomes that have been linked to grandiose narcissism in the past and that it considered several objectively assessed and evaluator-perceived qualities. Nevertheless, one cannot extrapolate the current results to other social outcomes that have been linked to grandiose narcissism. Instead, the current findings indicate that the results might be dependent on the outcome chosen and the respective quality. Future research might therefore investigate other outcomes, such as for example task performance or likability as well. Furthermore, even though the present research was comprehensive in scope and included several studies that were relatively large for psychological standards, none of the effects were replicated in another sample, which renders the robustness of the findings across samples somewhat unclear. Another limitation of the current research concerns its unknown generalizability. With the exception of Study 3, the studies tested student samples. More diverse samples would have been desirable. Other limitations include the insufficient reliability of the MASC and the usage of single-item measures of evaluator-perceived qualities. Future research should use measures with higher psychometric quality. Furthermore, regarding Study 1 and Study 2 the results are based on first impressions, which are often more positive for narcissists (Back et al., 2010) and more positive than for long-term interactions (Czarna et al., 2016; Dufner et al., 2012; Leckelt et al., 2015, 2020). Future research should on the topic should ideally investigate different levels of acquaintance.

Thoughts on Statistical Power

Whenever an expected effect turns out to be non-significant, a critical question is whether statistical power has been large enough to reliably detect the effect. As our power analyses have shown, power was sufficient to detect a medium interaction effect of f2 = 0.15 (Cohen, 1988). However, the value of f2 = 0.15 is decades old and seems overly optimistic from today’s perspective (Aguinis et al., 2005; plus it is debatable how informative squared effect sizes are; Funder & Ozer, 2019). In fact, the significant interaction effects in Study 3 (verbal intelligence * narcissistic admiration on income and on prestige) had only an effect sizes of f2 = 0.01, which was considerably smaller than expected, but actually quite similar to effect sizes of moderation tests in other content domains (Aguinis et al., 2005). Assuming similar effect sizes in Studies 1 and 2, the original power analysis was too optimistic and that Studies 1 and 2 are not sufficiently powered to find a plausible small interaction effect. The likelihood of finding an effect size of f2 = 0.01 with the given sample sizes with a likelihood of 80% was only 35% in Study 1 and 23% in Study 2. In Study 1, the effect size would have needed to be at least f2 = 0.03 and in Study 2, it would have needed to be f2 = 0.05 to be detected with 80% power.

To gain a more concrete understanding of the attained power in our studies, we used a Shiny App by Baranger et al. (2022; https://david-baranger.shinyapps.io/InteractionPoweR_analytic/). An interaction effect implies that the association (beta) between the predictor and outcome differs at different levels of the moderator. With the app, one can find out how much the association would need to change with a 1 SD increase in the moderator. For example, one can find out how much more positive the association between admiration and income would have to be at medium vs. 1 SD above average levels of verbal intelligence so that the moderation effect becomes significant with an 80% chance. Information about all other known parameters (reliabilities of the measures, which are highly relevant for the statistical power for finding interaction effects; Busemeyer & Jones, 1983; intercorrelations between variables, sample size) are included into the analysis. For Study 3, power was sufficient for finding a difference in effect sizes of β = |.08| to |.09| (depending on the reliabilities of the used measures in the respective analyses and their interactions). The actual difference we empirically found was .10. For Study 1, given the sample size reliabilities, and intercorrelations, power would have been sufficient to find differences in effect sizes of at least β =|.20| and for Study 2, power would have been sufficient to find differences in effect sizes of at least β = |.21| to |.29| with a likelihood of 80%. It is therefore unlikely that effects of these magnitude were present, but smaller effects still remain possible.

The current research suggests that both a strong narcissistic need for admiration and the presence of specific qualities are likely beneficial for attaining desirable social outcomes. Individuals who are highly appealing to potential mates, individuals who are socially influential and individuals who are wealthy and have prestigious occupations all tend to have elevated narcissistic admiration and it is paired with physical attractiveness for the first group and with high intelligence in the second and third group. From this pattern, one might get the impression that the unique combination of narcissistic grandiosity and objectively assessed qualities is key for attaining specific outcomes. However, rather than being dependent on each other and forming a unique combination of the “gifted narcissist,” our findings indicate that the effects of narcissism and the objectively assessed qualities are independent and can therefore compensate each other. Only for the combination of a strong narcissistic need for admiration paired with high verbal intelligence, it might be true that it is especially beneficial for accumulating material wealth and getting a prestigious occupation. We hope that these insights might contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the social effects of narcissism.

This study was supported with grants from the German Research Foundation to Michael Dufner (DU 1641/3-1) and Mitja Back (BA 3731/6-1), and a grant from National Science Center, Poland (2016/23/G/HS6/01397) and the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (the Bekker programme, grant no. PPN/BEK/2019/1/00371/U/00001) to Anna Z. Czarna.

None of the authors have a conflict of interest to disclose.

For Study 1, the study codebook can be found online (https://osf.io/n7dw9/), the data of interest for this research question and the analysis script can be downloaded from the Open Science Framework (OSF https://osf.io/yns58/). For Study 2, the data, analysis script and study codebook can also be downloaded from the OSF (https://osf.io/yns58/). For Study 3, we could not make the data publicly available, due to the German data protection law. However, the data can be requested from the German Institute for Economic Research/German Socio-economic Panel Study (e-mail: [email protected]). The analysis script can be downloaded from the OSF (https://osf.io/g2pur).

The analyses of Study 1 were pre-registered (https://osf.io/8f623 [Kraft and Dufner, 2018]). In addition to the pre-registered analyses, we conducted several exploratory analyses. These will be clarified as such.

Different ethical committee (detail information in each study section) approved the studies.

Aguinis, H., Beaty, J. C., Boik, R. J., & Pierce, C. A. (2005). Effect Size and Power in Assessing Moderating Effects of Categorical Variables Using Multiple Regression: A 30-Year Review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 94–107. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.90.1.94
Aiken, L. S., West, S. G., & Reno, R. R. (2003). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions (Nachdr.). SAGE.
Aitchison, J., & Brown, J. A. (1957). The lognormal distribution with special reference to its uses in economics. Cambridge University Press.
Anderson, C., Ames, D. R., & Gosling, S. D. (2008). Punishing hubris: The perils of overestimating one’s status in a group. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(1), 90–101. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167207307489
Asendorpf, J. B., Penke, L., & Back, M. D. (2011). From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long–term outcomes of speed–dating in a community sample. European Journal of Personality, 25(1), 16–30. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.768
Back, M. D. (2018). The narcissistic admiration and rivalry concept. In A. D. Hermann, A. B. Brunell, & J. D. Foster (Eds.), Handbook of trait narcissism (pp. 57–67). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92171-6_6
Back, M. D., & Humberg, S. (2022). Münster Open Dating Projects: Understanding dating preferences and processes. Open Science Framework. https://osf.io/n7dw9/
Back, M. D., Küfner, A. C. P., Dufner, M., Gerlach, T. M., Rauthmann, J. F., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2013). Narcissistic admiration and rivalry: Disentangling the bright and dark sides of narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(6), 1013–1037. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034431
Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C., & Egloff, B. (2010). Why are narcissists so charming at first sight? Decoding the narcissism–popularity link at zero acquaintance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(1), 132–145. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016338
Baranger, D. A., Finsaas, M., Goldstein, B., Vize, C., Lynam, D., & Olino, T. M. (2022). Tutorial: Power analyses for interaction effects in cross-sectional regressions. PsyArxiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/5ptd7
Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139–168. https://doi.org/10.1086/209154
Brunell, A. B., Campbell, W. K. (2011). Narcissism and romantic relationships. In The handbook of narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (pp. 344–350). John Wiley Sons, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118093108.ch30
Brunell, A. B., Gentry, W. A., Campbell, W. K., Hoffman, B. J., Kuhnert, K. W., DeMarree, K. G. (2008). Leader emergence: The case of the narcissistic leader. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(12), 1663–1676. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167208324101
Brunswik, E. (1956). Perception and the representative design of psychological experiments. University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520350519
Busemeyer, J. R., Jones, L. E. (1983). Analysis of multiplicative combination rules when the causal variables are measured with error. Psychological Bulletin, 93(3), 549–562. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.93.3.549
Campbell, W. K. (1999). Narcissism and romantic attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1254–1270. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1254
Campbell, W. K., Campbell, S. M. (2009). On the self-regulatory dynamics created by the peculiar benefits and costs of narcissism: A Contextual Reinforcement Model and examination of leadership. Self and Identity, 8(2–3), 214–232. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860802505129
Campbell, W. K., Foster, J. D. (2007). The narcissistic self: Background, an extended agency model, and ongoing controversies. In C. Sedikides S. J. Spencer (Eds.), Frontiers of social psychology. The self (pp. 115–138). Psychology Press.
Campbell, W. K., Hoffman, B. J., Campbell, S. M., Marchisio, G. (2010). Narcissism in organizational contexts. Human Resource Management Review, S1053482210000574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2010.10.007
Campbell, W. K., Miller, J. D. (Eds.). (2011). The handbook of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Theoretical approaches, empirical findings, and treatments. John Wiley Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118093108
Cohen, J. E. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Côté, S., Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., Miners, C. T. H. (2010). Emotional intelligence and leadership emergence in small groups. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 496–508. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.03.012
Czarna, A. Z., Leifeld, P., Śmieja, M., Dufner, M., Salovey, P. (2016). Do narcissism and emotional intelligence win us friends? Modeling dynamics of peer popularity using inferential network analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(11), 1588–1599. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167216666265
Czarna, A. Z., Zajenkowski, M., Dufner, M. (2018). How does it feel to be a narcissist? Narcissism and emotions. In A. D. Hermann, A. B. Brunell, J. D. Foster (Eds.), Handbook of trait narcissism (pp. 255–263). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92171-6_27
Denissen, J. J. A., Schönbrodt, F. D., van Zalk, M., Meeus, W. H. J., van Aken, M. A. G. (2011). Antecedents and Consequences of Peer–Rated Intelligence. European Journal of Personality, 25(2), 108–119. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.799
Dufner, M., Denissen, J. J. A., van Zalk, M., Matthes, B., Meeus, W. H. J., van Aken, M. A. G., Sedikides, C. (2012). Positive intelligence illusions: On the relation between intellectual self‐enhancement and psychological adjustment. Journal of Personality, 80(3), 537–572. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00742.x
Dufner, M., Rauthmann, J. F., Czarna, A. Z., Denissen, J. J. (2013). Are narcissists sexy? Zeroing in on the effect of narcissism on short-term mate appeal. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(7), 870–882. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213483580
Dufner, M., Wieg, F., Kraft, L., Grapsas, S., Hagemeyer, B. (2024). Motive-Specific Affective Contingencies and Their Relevance for Personality and Motivated Behavior. European Journal of Personality, 38(2), 225–240. https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070231156842
Dziobek, I., Fleck, S., Kalbe, E., Rogers, K., Hassenstab, J., Brand, M., Kessler, J., Woike, J. K., Wolf, O. T., Convit, A. (2006). Introducing MASC: A Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(5), 623–636. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-006-0107-0
Emmons, R. A. (1989). Exploring the relations between motives and traits: The case of narcissism. In D. M. Buss N. Cantor (Eds.), Personality psychology (pp. 32–44). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-0634-4_3
Feingold, A. (1990). Gender differences in effects of physical attractiveness on romantic attraction: A comparison across five research paradigms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(5), 981–993. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.59.5.981
Fossati, A., Borroni, S., Dziobek, I., Fonagy, P., Somma, A. (2018). Thinking about assessment: Further evidence of the validity of the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition as a measure of mentalistic abilities. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 35(1), 127–141. https://doi.org/10.1037/pap0000130
Foster, J. D., Trimm, R. F., IV. (2008). On being eager and uninhibited: Narcissism and approach–avoidance motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 1004–1017. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167208316688
Funder, D. C., Ozer, D. J. (2019). Evaluating Effect Size in Psychological Research: Sense and Nonsense. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 2(2), 156–168. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515245919847202
Ganzeboom, H. B. G., Treiman, D. J. (1996). Internationally comparable measures of occupational status for the 1988 International Standard Classification of Occupations. Social Science Research, 25(3), 201–239. https://doi.org/10.1006/ssre.1996.0010
Geiger, M., Bärwaldt, R., Wilhelm, O. (2021). The good, the bad, and the clever: Faking ability as a socio-emotional ability? Journal of Intelligence, 9(1), 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence9010013
George, J. M. (2000). Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence. Human Relations, 53(8), 1027–1055. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726700538001
Geukes, K., Hutteman, R., Nestler, S., Küfner, A. P., Back, M. D. (2019). CONNECT. http://osf.io/2pmcr
Geukes, K., Nestler, S., Hutteman, R., Dufner, M., Küfner, A. C. P., Egloff, B., Denissen, J. J. A., Back, M. D. (2017). Puffed-up but shaky selves: State self-esteem level and variability in narcissists. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(5), 769–786. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000093
Greenlees, I. A., McGrew, W. C. (1994). Sex and age differences in preferences and tactics of mate attraction: Analysis of published advertisements. Ethology and Sociobiology, 15(2), 59–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/0162-3095(94)90017-5
Grijalva, E., Harms, P. D., Newman, D. A., Gaddis, B. H., Fraley, R. C. (2015). Narcissism and leadership: A meta-analytic review of linear and nonlinear relationships. Personnel Psychology, 68(1), 1–47. https://doi.org/10.1111/peps.12072
Grijalva, E., Newman, D. A., Tay, L., Donnellan, M. B., Harms, P. D., Robins, R. W., Yan, T. (2015). Gender differences in narcissism: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 141(2), 261–310. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038231
Grosz, M. P., Harms, P. D., Dufner, M., Kraft, L., Wetzel, E. (2020). Reducing the overlap between Machiavellianism and subclinical psychopathy: The M7 and P7 scales. Collabra: Psychology, 6(1), 17799. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.17799
Härtel, T. M., Leckelt, M., Grosz, M. P., Küfner, A. C. P., Geukes, K., Back, M. D. (2021). Pathways from narcissism to leadership emergence in social groups. European Journal of Personality, 37(1), 72–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070211046266
Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1037/10628-000
Hermann, Anthony D., Brunell, A. B., Foster, J. D. (Eds.). (2018). Handbook of trait narcissism: Key advances, research methods, and controversies. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92171-6
Holtzman, N. S., Strube, M. J. (2010). Narcissism and attractiveness. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(1), 133–136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2009.10.004
Humberg, S., Gerlach, T. M., Franke-Prasse, T., Geukes, K., Back, M. D. (in press). Is (Actual or Perceptual) Personality Similarity Associated With Attraction in Initial Romantic Encounters? A Dyadic Response Surface Analysis.
Johnson, P. E., Johnson, M. P. E. (2019). Package ‘rockchalk.’
Jonason, P. K., Li, N. P., Webster, G. D., Schmitt, D. P. (2009). The dark triad: Facilitating a short-term mating strategy in men. European Journal of Personality, 23(1), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.698
Judge, T. A., Colbert, A. E., Ilies, R. (2004). Intelligence and leadership: A quantitative review and test of theoretical propositions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(3), 542–552. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.89.3.542
Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American Dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(3), 280–287. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167296223006
Kellett, J. B., Humphrey, R. H., Sleeth, R. G. (2002). Empathy and complex task performance: Two routes to leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(5), 523–544. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1048-9843(02)00142-x
Kenny, D. A. (1994). Interpersonal perception: A social relations analysis. Guilford Press.
Kenny, D. A., La Voie, L. (1984). The Social Relations Model. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 18, pp. 141–182). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0065-2601(08)60144-6
Kerr, L. G., Tissera, H., McClure, M. J., Lydon, J. E., Back, M. D., Human, L. J. (2020). Blind at first sight: The role of distinctively accurate and positive first impressions in romantic interest. Psychological Science, 31(6), 715–728. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620919674
Koladich, S. J., Atkinson, B. E. (2016). The dark triad and relationship preferences: A replication and extension. Personality and Individual Differences, 94, 253–255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.01.023
Küfner, A. C. P., Nestler, S., Back, M. D. (2013). The two pathways to being an (un‐)popular narcissist. Journal of Personality, 81(2), 184–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00795.x
Lang, F. R., Weiss, D., Stocker, A. (2007). Assessing cognitive capacities in computer-assisted survey research: Two ultra-short tests of intellectual ability in the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Schmollers Jahrbuch, 127(1), 183–191. https://doi.org/10.3790/schm.127.1.183
Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126(3), 390–423. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.126.3.390
Leckelt, M., Geukes, K., Küfner, A. C. P., Niemeyer, L. M., Hutteman, R., Osterholz, S., Egloff, B., Nestler, S., Back, M. D. (2020). A Longitudinal Field Investigation of Narcissism and Popularity Over Time: How Agentic and Antagonistic Aspects of Narcissism Shape the Development of Peer Relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(4), 643–659. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167219872477
Leckelt, M., Küfner, A. C. P., Nestler, S., Back, M. D. (2015). Behavioral processes underlying the decline of narcissists’ popularity over time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(5), 856–871. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000057
Leckelt, M., Richter, D., Wetzel, E., Back, M. D. (2019). Longitudinal associations of narcissism with interpersonal, intrapersonal, and institutional outcomes: An investigation using a representative sample of the German population. Collabra: Psychology, 5(1), 26. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.248
Leckelt, M., Wetzel, E., Gerlach, T. M., Ackerman, R. A., Miller, J. D., Chopik, W. J., Penke, L., Geukes, K., Küfner, A. C. P., Hutteman, R., Richter, D., Renner, K.-H., Allroggen, M., Brecheen, C., Campbell, W. K., Grossmann, I., Back, M. D. (2018). Validation of the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Questionnaire Short Scale (NARQ-S) in convenience and representative samples. Psychological Assessment, 30(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000433
Leder, J., Schneider, S., Schütz, A. (2021). Testing the relationships between narcissism, risk attitude, and income with data from a representative German sample. Personality Science, 2, e7293. https://doi.org/10.5964/ps.7293
Lee, P. H., Yu, P. L. (2013). An R package for analyzing and modeling ranking data. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13(1), 65. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-13-65
Lehrl, S., Triebig, G., Fischer, B. (1995). Multiple choice vocabulary test MWT as a valid and short test to estimate premorbid intelligence. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 91(5), 335–345. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0404.1995.tb07018.x
McClelland, D. C. (1987). Human Motivation. Cambridge University Press.
Miller, J. D., Back, M. D., Lynam, D. R., Wright, A. G. C. (2021). Narcissism today: What we know and what we need to learn. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 30(6), 519–525. https://doi.org/10.1177/09637214211044109
Miller, J. D., Hoffman, B. J., Gaughan, E. T., Gentile, B., Maples, J., Keith Campbell, W. (2011). Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism: A nomological network analysis: variants of narcissism. Journal of Personality, 79(5), 1013–1042. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00711.x
Morf, C. C., Rhodewalt, F. (2001). Unraveling the paradoxes of narcissism: A dynamic self-regulatory processing model. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 177–196. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli1204_1
Mota, S., Leckelt, M., Geukes, K., Nestler, S., Humberg, S., Schröder-Abé, M., Schmukle, S. C., Back, M. D. (2019). A Comprehensive Examination of Narcissists’ Self-Perceived and Actual Socioemotional Cognition Ability. Collabra: Psychology, 5(1), 6. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.174
Nestler, S., Back, M. D. (2013). Applications and extensions of the lens model to understand interpersonal judgments at zero acquaintance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(5), 374–379. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721413486148
Oberauer, K., Süß, H.-M., Schulze, R., Wilhelm, O., Wittmann, W. W. (2000). Working memory capacity — Facets of a cognitive ability construct. Personality and Individual Differences, 29(6), 1017–1045. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0191-8869(99)00251-2
Olderbak, S., Wilhelm, O., Hildebrandt, A., Quoidbach, J. (2019). Sex differences in facial emotion perception ability across the lifespan. Cognition and Emotion, 33(3), 579–588. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2018.1454403
Piff, P. K. (2014). Wealth and the inflated self: Class, entitlement, and narcissism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(1), 34–43. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213501699
Preuss, G. S., Alicke, M. D. (2009). Everybody loves me: Self-evaluations and metaperceptions of dating popularity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(7), 937–950. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167209335298
Rau, R., Nestler, W., Dufner, M., Nestler, S. (2021). Seeing the best or worst in others: A measure of generalized other-perceptions. Assessment, 28(8), 1897–1914. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191120905015
Rau, R., Thielmann, I., Breil, S. M., Geukes, K., Krause, S., Nikoleizig, L., Back, M. D., Nestler, S. (2020). Do perceiver effects in interpersonal perception predict cooperation in social dilemmas? Collabra: Psychology, 6(1), 35. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.332
Raven, J. C., Raven, J., Court, J. H. (1962). Advanced progressive matrices set II. Oxford Psychologists Press.
Richter, D., Schupp, J. (2012). SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS) — Description, structure and documentation. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2131214
Roberts, B. W., Robins, R. W. (2000). Broad dispositions, broad aspirations: The intersection of personality traits and major life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(10), 1284–1296. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167200262009
Rubin, R. S., Bartels, L. K., Bommer, W. H. (2002). Are leaders smarter or do they just seem that way? Exploring perceived intellectual competence and leadership emergence. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 30(2), 105–118. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2002.30.2.105
Schliebener, M., Kraft, L., Dufner, M. (2023). An EMG-based approach toward the assessment of implicit self-esteem. Acta Psychologica, 234, 103868. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.103868
Schönbrodt, F. D., Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C. (2012). TripleR: An R package for social relations analyses based on round-robin designs. Behavior Research Methods, 44(2), 455–470. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0150-4
Sedikides, C., Gregg, A. P., Cisek, S., Hart, C. M. (2007). The I that buys: Narcissists as consumers. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17(4), 254–257. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1057-7408(07)70035-9
Sedikides, C., Hoorens, V., Dufner, M. (2015). Self-enhancing self-presentation: Interpersonal, relational, and organizational implications. In F. Guay, D. M. McInerney, R. Craven, H. W. Marsh (Eds.), Self-concept, motivation and identity: Underpinning success with research and practice (pp. 29–55). Information Age Publishing.
Sedikides, C., Rudich, E. A., Gregg, A. P., Kumashiro, M., Rusbult, C. (2004). Are normal narcissists psychologically healthy?: Self-esteem matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 400–416. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.3.400
Shackelford, T. K., Schmitt, D. P., Buss, D. M. (2005). Universal dimensions of human mate preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(2), 447–458. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.01.023
Smith, A. (1995). Symbol digit modalities test. Western Psychological Services.
Strenze, T. (2007). Intelligence and socioeconomic success: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal research. Intelligence, 35(5), 401–426. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2006.09.004
Tenney, E. R., Spellman, B. A. (2011). Complex social consequences of self-knowledge. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(4), 343–350. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550610390965
Wagner, G. G., Frick, J. R., Schupp, J. (2007). The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)—evolution, scope and enhancements. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1028709
Webb, L., Delaney, J. J., Young, L. R. (1989). Age, interpersonal attraction, and social interaction: A review and assessment. Research on Aging, 11(1), 107–123. https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027589111005
Weber, S., Geukes, K., Leckelt, M., Back, M. D. (2021). The attractiveness of narcissists: Hard work or natural beauty? Self and Identity, 20(2), 235–267. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2019.1575899
Weiss, B., Miller, J. D. (2018). Distinguishing between grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In A. D. Hermann, A. B. Brunell, J. D. Foster (Eds.), Handbook of trait narcissism (pp. 3–13). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92171-6_1
Wetzel, E., Grijalva, E., Robins, R. W., Roberts, B. W. (2020). You’re still so vain: Changes in narcissism from young adulthood to middle age. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119(2), 479–496. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000266
Wilhelm, O., Hildebrandt, A., Manske, K., Schacht, A., Sommer, W. (2014). Test battery for measuring the perception and recognition of facial expressions of emotion. Frontiers in Psychology, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00404
Wink, P. (1991). Two faces of narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(4), 590–597. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.61.4.590
Wolff, S. B., Pescosolido, A. T., Druskat, V. U. (2002). Emotional intelligence as the basis of leadership emergence in self-managing teams. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(5), 505–522. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1048-9843(02)00141-8
Wurst, S. N., Back, M. D. (2016). Date me for Science Speed-Dating Study. Open Science Framework. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/NWVR3
Wurst, S. N., Gerlach, T. M., Dufner, M., Rauthmann, J. F., Grosz, M. P., Küfner, A. C. P., Denissen, J. J. A., Back, M. D. (2017). Narcissism and romantic relationships: The differential impact of narcissistic admiration and rivalry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(2), 280–306. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000113
Wurst, S. N., Humberg, S., Back, M. D. (2018a). Rose-colored glasses in initial romantic encounters? Examining positive partner illusions and their interpersonal consequences in the very early stages of romantic acquaintance. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/48sh2
Wurst, S. N., Humberg, S., Back, M. D. (2018b). The impact of mate value in first and subsequent real-life romantic encounters. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/adej3
Zajenkowski, M., Dufner, M. (2020). Why do narcissists care so much about intelligence? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(3), 261–266. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721420917152
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Supplementary data