As a result of narcissism's known overlap with the Big Five personality traits (Trzesniewski, Donnellan, & Robins, 2008), it is possible that narcissism relates to CWB in only a spurious fashion, such that the observed covariation between the two is due to their well-known common correlates. In their seminal review, O'Boyle et al. (2012) addressed many important questions, but did not meta-analytically investigate whether narcissism incrementally predicts CWB beyond the Big Five. Thus it remains unclear how uniquely valuable narcissism is in the prediction of CWB.
Evidence suggests that narcissism has substantial overlap with some components of the Big Five (Trzesniewski et al., 2008). Specifically, narcissism has strong interpersonal implications (Gurtman, 1992), as demonstrated by its link to the two Big Five traits (i.e. Extraversion and Agreeableness) that also have strong relational content (Goldberg, 1990; Uziel, 2010). For example, narcissism has a particularly large correlation with Extraversion (r = .49, N = 18,274; Trzesniewski et al., 2008), which is compatible with narcissists' strong desire for leadership roles, tendency to emerge as leaders, and their dominant/assertive interpersonal style (Brunell, Gentry, Campbell, Hoffman, Kuhnert, & Demarree, 2008; Emmons, 1984; Grijalva, Harms, Newman, Gaddis, & Fraley, in press). In addition, narcissism has a smaller though consistent relationship with Agreeableness (r = −.14, N = 18,274; Trzesniewski et al., 2008). A large body of evidence supports narcissists' general disagreeableness, including entitlement, exploitativeness, and a lack of empathy (APA, 2000; Emmons, 1984; Watson, Grisham, Trotter, & Biderman, 1984), as well as their disinterest in developing or maintaining healthy intimate relationships (Campbell, 1999; Campbell, Foster, & Finkel, 2002). In fact, Paulhus (2001) advocated a minimalist account of narcissism using the Big Five framework, in which narcissists could simply be considered “disagreeable extraverts” (p. 228). He asserted that the most common non-pathological narcissism inventory, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Terry, 1988), is a forced-choice measure that makes individuals choose between endorsing Agreeableness (being likable) versus pre-eminence (being admired), with the narcissistic option being consistent with pre-eminence. Notably, of the Big Five traits, Agreeableness is one of the strongest correlates of CWB, particularly interpersonal CWB or CWB-I (ρ = .46; Berry, Ones, & Sackett, 2007). In sum, narcissism's overlap with the Big Five could potentially explain the positive relationship between narcissism and CWB.
On the other hand, it may be that narcissism could explain a large portion of CWB beyond the Big Five, because both narcissism and CWB are focused on the negative side of human nature (whereas more traditional trait paradigms such as the Big Five can be thought of as focusing on positive traits). Therefore, narcissism could tap into a portion of the variance in CWB not covered by the Big Five. Consistent with this possibility, in their qualitative review of the literature, Wu and LeBreton (2011) point out that, “some authors have raised concerns with the predictive validity of traditional personality-based approaches to predicting CWBs because these approaches often explain at most 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the variance in CWBs” (p. 597). This leaves quite a bit of unaccounted variance for narcissism to explain. Finally, Judge, LePine, and Rich (2006) supplied direct evidence on the topic, when they found that narcissism predicts incremental variance in supervisor reports of CWB beyond that provided by the Big Five traits. Thus we propose the following hypothesis.
- Hypothesis 1: Narcissism will account for incremental variance in CWB beyond the Big Five traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness, Emotional Stability, and Conscientiousness.