How to find out if a person is a narcissist or not

Aug 06, 2014 04:47 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter

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Are you curious as to whether one of your friends, family members or colleagues is a narcissist? The easiest way to find out is to just simply ask them.

People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. That's because truly narcissistic people don't see the character trait as a flaw and are more than willing to admit to it, say researchers from Ohio State University. 

"You can ask them directly because they do not see narcissism as a negative quality - they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly," said Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

In a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 people of all ages, the researchers found they could reliably identify narcissistic people by asking them this exact question with a note:

"To what extent do you agree with this statement: 'I am a narcissist'. (Note: The word "narcissist" means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)"

"Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society," Bushman said. "Those who think they are already great don't try to improve themselves. And narcissism is bad for society because people who are only thinking of themselves and their own interests are less helpful to others."

The new study suggests that researchers who are pressed for time or doing a much larger study can include this simple question in their research if they want to get a rough gauge of narcissistic traits

"People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact," Bushman said. "You can ask them directly because they don't see narcissism as a negative quality - they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly."

The study was published online Aug. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE.

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