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Guys Are More Narcissistic Than Women, Study Says … But Not For The Reason You Think

Another surprise? We’re NOT the most self-centered generation ever.

Boasting of every achievement, real or imagined, as if you deserve a Nobel Prize? Check. Total disregard for others' feelings and concerns? Check. Needing to be the most successful, fascinating and special person in any room you grace with your presence? Check, check, check.

Congratulations, you may be a narcissist ... and if so, you're also more likely to be a dude, according to Dr. Emily Grijalva, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management. She just released a three-year review, the first of its kind, that compiles research from half a million subjects, many of them college students.

Put that selfie stick down and read ahead for why Dr. Grijalva believes narcissism may be linked to gender roles ... and why it shockingly isn't on the rise.

It's not all genetics, she says -- men feel more comfortable expressing narcissistic behavior partially because they're less stigmatized for it.

Dr. Grijalva: "We draw on something called the biosocial construction model. The way most modern psychologists think about gender roles is that biology and culture are intertwined.

“[Men and women] have about the same level for grandiose exhibitionism — men want to be the center of attention about the same as women. They are also vain and self-absorbed to about the same degree. Men have more exploitative entitlement and leadership authority [which] correlates with being aggressive, academic dishonesty, white-collar crime, manipulating people.

"[Men have] more motivation to possess power and authority. ... There's this idea that women should become more like men, and that would be an indication of social progress. ... It could be a sign of social progress [if women were to express more self-confident traits of narcissism], but I wouldn't suggest there should be more narcissists out there."

This narcissism gap has remained steady for decade after decade.

Dr. Grijalva: "What surprised us most, I would say, is the fact that gender difference [in narcissism] hasn't decreased over time -- it remains stable between 1990 and 2013. We had a hypothesis that women's narcissism levels would become more balanced with men's because of social changes, but it remains stable.

"In retrospect, that makes sense because a lot of social change in the U.S. happened in the '50s and '60s, and narcissism only became [defined as] a personality disorder in the late 1980s. So all this research only started in the 1990s [after many social changes had already occurred]."

Narcissism isn't the worst quality in the world -- at least, parts of it aren't.

Dr. Grijalva: "Narcissism is a really complex phenomenon; it has both positive and negative elements -- a lot of people think it’s ony negative, but it’s also related to high self-esteem, high self-confience, being charismatic and being a leader.

“The more negative [aspect] is being exploitative, entitled, having a lack of empathy for others and not being able to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships ‘I insist on getting the respect that’s due to me.’

"We’re looking at it on a continuum. Having moderate levels of narcissism is probably ideal; you’re self-confident, but you don’t go into the extreme characteristics."

There may be two forms of narcissism: extroverted and introverted. Men seem to have more of the former than women, and are equal in the latter.

Dr. Grijalva: "There is not a gender difference in that introverted, more neurotic kind of narcissism. ... I think of professors -- some of them think they're all-important, but they might not have positive attributes such as being extroverted and charismatic.

"There was a gender difference [in overall narcissism] of about a fourth of a standard deviation. ... I would make sure to tell people it is a small gender difference; sometimes these things can be blown out of proportion. So men are slightly more narcissistic on average ... but not all men are entitled or exploitative. In general, men and women share most psychological attributes -- they're more similar than they are different."

For both genders, narcissism often fades as you get older.

Dr. Grijalva: "It’s related to age -- you might’ve heard of this phenomenon called 'Generation Me,' where [supposedly] young people's narcissism levels have been increasing over time. That's not what we found. It may be a developmental phase of life; you tend to be more narcissistic when you’re in your early 20s, but there is evidence it decreases with age.

"Old people always say, 'This young generation, there's something wrong with them -- this isn't how it was when I was young.' But our memories may just be flawed, and we just don't remember characteristics of ourselves when we were young. ... There’s not empirical evidence for narcissism scores increasing [with social media and selfies] -- I find it surprising as well."

Because narcissists are often too arrogant to identify themselves that way, it's tough to objectively measure how many of them there are.

Dr. Grijalva: "There’s not a great estimate for the base rate of narcissism. Not a lot of people are diagnosed with narcissism as a personality disorder -- something like 1% -- but [most of us] could acknowledge it’s more than 1% of the population [from personal experience].

"If you realize you’re a narcissist and that’s a problem, then you might not be a narcissist."

Watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Grijalva's research: