There are plenty of people high in narcissism who you can spot right away. The grandiose type of narcissists constantly try to draw attention to themselves, even or especially, at the expense of others. They feel entitled to special treatment and become enraged when they don’t get it. The vulnerable narcissists also need reassurance, but their insecurities are not expressed as overtly. Still, they can be entitled and exploitative.
What about the people whose narcissism is expressed more subtly? New research on the well-being of people high in narcissism provides some ideas about how to pick them out of the crowd.
Psychologists typically conceptualize narcissism as a trait that you’re born, live, and die with, having spent the majority of your life seeking constant attention. Miranda Giacomin and Christian Jordan of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Ontario decided to examine “state” narcissism, or one’s narcissism on a given day. After observing considerable variation in narcissism scores within the same people tested over a 10-day period, they proposed that situations can either amplify or reduce someone’s narcissistic tendencies. If you’re exposed to another person’s suffering, even if you’re relatively high in narcissism, you may, on that day or in that moment, become more empathic.