Get access

Narcissistic Responding to Ego Threat: When the Status of the Evaluator Matters


  • We thank Claire Hart for her constructive comments on an earlier draft. We also thank Amy Claasen and John Geer for their assistance with data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert S. Horton, Department of Psychology, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Narcissists and nonnarcissists were insulted by high-status and low-status evaluators and were given an opportunity to self-protect with a comparative (evaluator derogation; Experiment 1) and noncomparative (inflated state self-esteem; Experiments 1 and 2) strategy. Narcissists engaged in comparative self-protection indiscriminately (i.e., derogating both low-status and high-status evaluators), whereas nonnarcissists showed some mercy to low-status evaluators. With regard to noncomparative protection, the findings were consistent across studies: Evaluator status interacted with narcissism such that narcissists engaged in noncomparative self-protection more than nonnarcissists when the evaluator was high, but not low, in status. Evaluator status and, more generally, source of feedback are worth serious consideration when untangling the intricacies and flexibility of narcissistic self-protection.