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BPS News

There’s such a thing as collective narcissism (and it might explain a lot that’s going on at the moment)

09 December 2016

It feels like this year there has been a big increase in people’s tendency to make a show of their political allegiance, to believe passionately in the superiority of their chosen group’s position, and to be ultra-vigilant to any potential incoming slight or insult toward the group.

This kind of behaviour shows signs of “collective narcissism”, which like individual narcissism, is characterised by outward confidence compensating for deep-rooted insecurity.

Collective narcissists say they believe that their group is special and superior, yet when asked what others think of their group, or when tested on implicit measures, such as how quickly they associate in-group symbols with positive words, there is evidence of collective doubt.

Worryingly, a series of new studies shows how collective narcissism can foster inter-group conflict. The results suggest it is important that responsible politicians and journalists do what they can to prevent rather than foster this dangerous group mentality.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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