Why Do Narcissists Lose Popularity Over Time?
New research shows why narcissists become less popular over time.
Narcissism has been something of a mystery to psychologists. With narcissists, things tend to be extreme: the good is really good, and the bad is really bad. Narcissism expert W. Keith Campbell compares interacting with narcissists to eating chococate cake: “When I eat chococlate cake, 20 minutes later I’m under my desk wanting to die. When I eat broccoli, in 20 minutes I feel good. But given the choice I always eat the cake.”
On the one hand, the narcissist’s charisma and self-confidence can be highly alluring. Psychologists Mitja Back and colleagues found that narcissists are indeed more popular at first acquaintance, and its due to four particular cues that make up their “charismatic air”*:
- Attractiveness (flashy, neat attire)
- Competence (self-assured behavior)
- Interpersonal Warmth (charming glances at strangers)
- Humor (witty verbal expressions)
On the other hand, research shows that the initial popularity of narcissists at the early stages of interpersonal interactions depends on the behavioral pathway that is triggered: expressive and dominant behaviors are associated with a positive evaluation, whereas arrogant and combative behaviors are associated with a negative evaluation. According to this research, narcissists may be more popular at first acquaintance because they are more likely to display behaviors that trigger a positive pathway, perhaps because they are trying to make a good first impression.