Men are 40% More Likely to Be Narcissists and They're Benefitting From It, Study Says

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Leah Thomas866
May 19, 2024 at 3:32PM UTC

Studies have shown that people who are narcissistic often become our bosses, even creating a disproportionate number of narcissists in leadership positions compared to neurotypical leaders.

Now, we know that men are almost 40 percent more likely than women to have clinical narcissism. We already understood that men are statistically more confident and have a higher level of self esteem than women do; but a recent analysis of 355 studies showed that the gender is one of the greatest indicators of this psychological trait. The studies looked at around 500,000 people aged eight to 55-years-old, and found that the gender difference in Narcissists was primarily caused by men scoring higher than women on two aspects of Narcissism. 

First, men scored higher than women on the Exploitative Entitlement Dimension, which predicts an individual’s likelihood to engage in harmful exploitative behavior. These behaviors may include the exclusion of colleagues, harassment, bullying and more. Additionally, it was found that men are more likely to describe themselves as leaders or having leadership qualities and capabilities. This predicts whether or not future leaders will take on an authoritarian style of leadership. 

So, why are men more likely to become narcissistic?

There is not one true and right explanation, but one can speculate. After years of men being praised for showing unwavering self-confidence, it is no surprise that they view themselves in such high regard. While women who take initiative as children are called “bossy,” bossy boys have historically been hailed as “future leaders.” Due to sexism in our American culture and workplace, men are told that they have leadership skills as young children, and their path to the top  from there is aided by other men in leadership positions —  and the exclusion of female candidates. 

Additionally, narcissistic tendencies have become a favorable quality in candidates for leadership positions. Even when gender, self-esteem and other traits like extraversion are controlled for in a study, a person’s level of narcissism still best predicts whether or not he or she becomes a leader. And another study has found that approximately 80 percent of the American population would score lower on a narcissism scale than the U.S. presidents. It all boils down to the fact that narcissists are great salesmen. While their other qualities — like creativity, actual leadership skills, and more — may not be the best, they are excellent at convincing you that they are. 

In recent years, the gender gap in narcissism has gotten smaller.

But only because women are becoming more narcissistic, rather than men becoming less so. As women have worked to become more prominent in corporate America and have fought against sexism to do so, they have developed some of the narcissistic qualities that come with preparing for this type of leadership. This uptick in female narcissists is likely tied to the societal encouragement of women to act more like men in order to be successful.

You might be wondering: what’s the problem? Isn't management functioning just fine, as-is? 

Well, companies led by narcissists face a few problems. Narcissists lose their favorable qualities when handling tough and stressful situations, and can make poor (or unethical) decisions. This isn't good for their team, or their organization. Plus, favoring narcissistic bosses means favoring (often abusive) men. 

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