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Integrating Naturalistic and Experimental Paradigms to Understand Mechanisms of Narcissism

Edershile, Elizabeth (2023) Integrating Naturalistic and Experimental Paradigms to Understand Mechanisms of Narcissism. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Theoretical accounts of narcissism emphasize dynamic shifting of self-states in response to the social context. Situations in which an individual experiences threats to their status are thought to set narcissism’s dynamics in motion. Naturalistic studies (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) have been used to examine the general patterning of fluctuations in grandiose and vulnerable states, as well as to examine how grandiosity and vulnerability change in response to perceptions of the interpersonal environment. Experimental studies have emphasized behavioral expressions of narcissistic individuals in response to putative “ego threats” from others. In many respects, naturalistic and experimental studies suffer from opposing limitations (e.g., lack of experimental control versus ambiguous real-life generalizability). Integrating naturalistic and experimental studies has the potential to provide a comprehensive model of how dynamics within narcissism unfold in response to status threat. The current study (N = 437) examined shifts in grandiosity and vulnerability in both naturalistic (ecological momentary assessment) and experimentally controlled (rigged tournament game) social interactions. Grandiosity decreased and vulnerability increased in response to both naturalistic and experimental status threats. Further, grandiose responses were generally amplified for the same people across methods. The current study reinforces the importance of status threatening environments to expressions within narcissism and elucidates important differences with respect to expressions of grandiosity and vulnerability across naturalistic and experimental methods.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Edershile, Elizabetheae39@pitt.edueae390000-0001-9511-2387
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWright, Aidan G.
Committee MemberDombrovski,
Committee MemberManuck, Stephen
Committee MemberPedersen,
Committee MemberPilkonis,
Committee MemberPogue-Geile,
Date: 6 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 June 2022
Approval Date: 6 September 2023
Submission Date: 24 March 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 85
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Narcissism, Grandiosity, Vulnerability, Dominance, Affiliation
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 14:35
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 14:35


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