The 1 Question That Will Tell You If You're A Narcissist

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Mindfulness_verticalIllustrated By Tyler Spangler.
It usually only takes us 10 minutes of conversation to identify (maybe not scientifically, but pretty darn accurately) someone who has narcissist tendencies. Of course, a more clinical analysis typically requires the widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), a survey that involves answering 40 questions.

But, new research indicates that the NPI is about 39 questions too long. Using a single question, researchers conducted a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 adults. The findings, published online today in PLOS ONE, found that their one-query method proved to be a reliable measure of one's narcissist personality.

Are you ready to see where you fall on the spectrum? Answer this question, which is written exactly as study participants received it: "To what extent do you agree with this statement: 'I am a narcissist.' (Note: The word 'narcissist' means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)" Participants were asked to rate themselves on a scale of one (not very true) to seven (very true).

It’s earth-shatteringly simple, right? This question "is not used to diagnose anyone," explains Brad Bushman, PhD, study co-author and professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University. "But, it works because narcissists are not ashamed to admit they are narcissistic.”

While time-efficient and practical, there are obvious limitations to a one-question test (beyond accidentally clicking the wrong button). Personalities have multiple dimensions, and the paper notes that someone who is concerned with pleasing others will be less likely to self-identify as a narcissist, for fear of judgment. Also, narcissism isn’t black-and-white; there are various aspects and “shades” to the trait (such as vanity, superiority, and entitlement) that the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) cannot accurately differentiate between.

This new survey isn’t a replacement for longer questionnaires, explains Bushman, but it can be used for online surveys when time (and attention span) is short. Now, let’s get back to talking about us.