Reflected self in others: Narcissism as motivation for moral conduct

Document Type


Publication Date



Past research has found that narcissists strategically show off their superiority by attempting to beat others in performance settings. However, an entirely different way in which narcissists’ can achieve their goal of being superior—of carrying out a desirable behavior that few others perform—is to act morally in a public setting. This social aspect of narcissism would have the outward appearance of being other-oriented but actually stems from a self-centered desire. This study assessed the relationship between narcissism and morality by having participants complete the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) and respond to moral scenarios that varied in the opportunity for admiration from others. The results revealed that female narcissists were more eager to conduct moral behavior than male narcissists, although the manipulation of the opportunity for public admiration affected men’s interest in moral conduct more than women’s. This suggests that narcissists’ motivation for moral conduct may depend on gender, perhaps because of different gender norms for prosocial behavior.


Article published in the Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (www.JISS.org), 2018 - 8(1): 55-67.