How To Create A Narcissist

Illustrated by Tyler Spangler.
We know that figuring out if you're a narcissist is pretty darn easy. Now, new research is pinpointing where those self-obsession tendencies come from — starting with our parents.

In the study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers gave 565 children in the Netherlands questionnaires that assessed their levels of self-esteem (being content with themselves) and narcissism (the belief that they are above others). The parents were also evaluated on their degrees of warmth vs. "overvaluation" (which refers to behaviors like thinking your kid deserves special treatment). The parents and children completed these questionnaires when the kids were between ages 7 and 11.

Results from the surveys showed that certain parenting styles may encourage narcissistic behaviors in children. In particular, parents who overvalued their kids were more likely to have children who internalized those beliefs; if your parents think you're the best thing ever, you're inclined to agree. On the other hand, parents who simply demonstrated high levels of warmth — treating their children with kindness, letting them know they're loved — had kids with high (and healthy) self-esteem. 

Although all the participants here were from the Netherlands, some analyses suggest rates of narcissism are increasing in the U.S., so these results are still helpful. And, since narcissists have more sex than the rest of us, we're probably not going to see them — or their selfies — go away anytime soon.

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