Chris Uggen's Blog: dr. drew on celebrity narcissism

Monday, May 24, 2010

dr. drew on celebrity narcissism

I was surprised to learn that media personality Dr. Drew Pinsky had published a peer-reviewed article in Journal of Research in Personality 2006. I'm not wild about the sampling, but his "Narcissism and Celebrity," coauthored with S. Mark Young, turns out to be a pretty good read. From the abstract:

We used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) to assess the degree of narcissism among celebrities. Results indicate that celebrities are significantly more narcissistic than MBA students and the general population. Contrary to findings in the population at large, in which men are more narcissistic than women, female celebrities were found to be significantly more narcissistic than their male counterparts. Reality television personalities had the highest overall scores on the NPI, followed by comedians, actors, and musicians. Further, our analyses fail to show any relationship between NPI scores and years of experience in the entertainment industry, suggesting that celebrities may have narcissistic tendencies prior to entering the industry.

The sample was drawn from 200 celebrities appearing on Loveline, Dr. Pinsky's syndicated radio program, and a comparison group of 200 MBA students. Each participant completed the 40-item Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI). I would be reluctant to draw any strong inferences from such a selective sample of celebrities, but I've charted some of the basic descriptives below. The figure shows mean levels of seven component NPI subscales for each group (authority, exhibitionism, superiority, entitlement, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, and vanity), with the highest score on each subscale highlighted in yellow.

Overall, celebrities were significantly more narcissistic than MBA students, with the small samples of reality TV stars and comedians posting the highest overall scores (19.5 and 18.9, respectively). Are bloggers narcissists? For what it's worth, I scored a 16 on the online NPI -- about the same as the musicians and male MBAs.


At 11:10 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Two comments... First, I often (lovingly) tell my brother that social scientists use MBA students as the comparison group since they are the lowest common denominator morally-speaking -- I will definitely be forwarding this article to him.

Second, the NPI is a weird instrument. I've never been so frustrated by having to force a choice. (FWIW, I am a 12 but scored really high on one unfortunate category -- I hope people would be surprised by which one it is, though perhaps this is my narcissism talking).

At 6:58 AM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

Pretty funny, Sara, but we can probably attribute one aberrant subscale soore to issues with the instrument.

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