The Two Faces of Narcissism: Admiration Seeking and Rivalry

Matthew Hutson in Scientific American:

NarcissismIn the past two years the study of narcissism has gotten a face-lift. The trait is now considered to have two distinct dimensions: admiration seeking and rivalry. Subsequent studies, including a recent look at actors, revealed a more nuanced picture of personality than did past work. The actors, for instance, want admiration more than most people but tend to be less competitive than the average Joe—they may crave the spotlight, but they will not necessarily push others out of the way to get it.

The new understanding of narcissism started with a 2013 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that identified narcissism's two dimensions. “Previous theories and measures of narcissism dealt with this trait as a unitary construct, mixing up agentic aspects—assertiveness, dominance, charm—with antagonistic aspects—aggressiveness and devaluation of others,” says Mitja Back of the University of Münster in Germany, the study's primary author. Lumping both aspects together made narcissistic behavior confounding. Studying hundreds of healthy subjects, Back's team found that traits related to narcissism clustered into two categories, with both facets of narcissism serving to maintain a positive self-image. Self-promotion draws praise, whereas self-defense demeans others to fend off criticism. Admiration seeking and rivalry each have different effects on body language, relationship health and personality.

More here.