Researchers in the U.S. conducted 11 experiments involving a grand total of 2,200 participants and found that identifying narcissists is as simple as asking them directly while making sure they fully understand the definition of the word and its implications.
The magic formula? Ask the supposed narcissist the following question and don't forget to make him aware of the note at the end:
"To what extent do you agree with this statement: ‘I am a narcissist.' (Note: The word 'narcissist' means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)"
Researchers did exactly so in many experiments on their multitude of subjects and asked them to self-rank their level of narcissism on a scale of one to seven, with seven representing the highest possible level of self-perceived narcissism.
"Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society," says Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University. "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."
This discovery on how to single out such menaces to society represents a grand advancement in social sciences that will save time and effort for researchers everywhere by eliminating the need for the conventional, widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) test.
Over the course of their numerous experiments, researchers found the results of their "Single Item Narcissism Scale" (SINS) test in accordance with those of the 40-item NPI when the same subjects were probed.
Although researchers remain humble about their success, saying the SINS test shouldn't immediately replace other forms of screening for narcissism, they note that it takes the average person 13.3 minutes to complete the 40-question NPI test and just 20 seconds to complete their SINS test.
Despite the comical undertones of the massive study, interviews led to serious comments by the researchers.
Among their reflections after numerous and extensive interactions with narcissists is the element of pride observed.
"People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. 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," says Bushman.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.
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