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Abstract

Narcissists are known for having excessively positive self-views, but an equally defining characteristic of narcissism may be a disregard of other people. Could encouraging people to care more about others, or feel more connected to them, reduce narcissism? We describe a series of studies demonstrating that a more communal focus on others reduces narcissistic tendencies. In particular, repeating communal self-statements (i.e., “I am a caring person”), recalling a time when one was caring, feeling empathy, focusing on monetary expenditures (which increases a sense of dependence on others), and interdependent self-construal all situationally reduce narcissism. These effects occur on a small scale but are significant because they establish that communal focus causes changes in narcissism. They also suggest that narcissism may have a state-like or context-dependent component, fluctuating across time and situations. Everyone may have the propensity to be narcissistic, but caring more about others may help to curb narcissism.