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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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96. Fluctuations in Narcissistic Grandiosity and Vulnerability: An Experimental Design

It is generally accepted that there are two core themes of narcissism: grandiosity and vulnerability. Clinical theory suggests that individuals may fluctuate in their levels of grandiosity and vulnerability across time. Recent empirical evidence does support this assertion (e.g., Gore & Widiger, 2016; Hyatt et al., 2017; Edershile et al., 2018; Edershile et al., under review). However, these fluctuations remain poorly understood. To investigate what leads to increases and decreases in narcissistic states over time, experimental manipulation may be particularly useful. In the current study, a recently developed social defeat task, Competitive Behavioral Assessment of Rivalry and Admiration (COBRA; Szücs et al., in prep) was used. In this task, individuals complete a series of rounds of the game ‘Snake.’ The game is rigged such that winning and losing is predetermined. As such, this task can be leveraged to examine how individuals change in their levels of grandiosity and vulnerability as they experience success and defeat. The present study (N = 236) examines how dispositional narcissism scores predict momentary manifestations of narcissism as well as how choices throughout the game change as a function of narcissism scores. Preliminary results reveal that dispositional grandiosity and vulnerability differentially predict changes in momentary manifestations of each. Additional analyses will examine whether players’ behavior becomes more aggressive as they increase in levels of grandiosity or vulnerability throughout the game. This study is the first, to our knowledge, to leverage an experimental design in an effort to elucidate fluctuations in grandiosity and vulnerability.

Elizabeth Edershile
University of Pittsburgh

Anna Szücs

Alexandre Dombrovski
University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychiatry

Aidan Wright
University of Pittsburgh


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