Source of article The Jury Room - Keene Trial Consulting.
We have blogged a few times here on the ways conservatives and liberals differ — in fact, for a while it seemed there was new research coming out about differences between those two groups routinely. But now we have another one—narcissism apparently shows up in different ways depending on whether you are liberal or conservative.
The researchers were looking at the relationship between social narcissism and political behaviors and values. They surveyed 750 American adults (a nationally representative sample) between October 26 and November 1, 2016. They used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (a measure commonly used in social sciences research) and found that, overall, levels of narcissism were about the same between liberals and conservatives. But when they looked at specific aspects of narcissism—there were differences between the two groups.
Liberals were more exhibitionistic and conservatives were more entitled.
For example, conservatives were more likely to agree with statements like, “I insist upon getting the respect that is due to me”.
Liberals were more likely to agree with statements like, “I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public”.
The researchers believe this finding means that “activation of one’s sense of entitlement appears to be related to moving an individual to the right. On the other hand, activation of one’s need to display their values is related to left leaning political positions”. However, they also say that the larger takeaway is that narcissism is part of all of us.
It is tempting to view labels (liberal, conservative, narcissist, et cetera) as entities, as if the label means the same thing to two different conservatives, or that narcissism only takes a single form. But the research points out the fallacy of that view. As a psychologist, narcissism is an interesting concept to me. It takes healthy and unhealthy forms, it can be provoked during times of stress, and it can be less visible at other times. But everyone likes to have their ego gently stroked, if done properly. And that is playing to narcissism.
What this study suggests is that if you want to appeal to the narcissism of conservative jurors, include language that discusses issues around what justice demands in recognition for work and fairness.
With liberals, they want to be admired and to be seen as admirable, so they want to be credited with striving to make the world better and want recognition for their efforts.
This is a nuanced distinction, but the focus on looking past the label and considering how it will mean different things to different people is very worthwhile.
Peter K. Hatemi Zoltán Fazekas (2018). Narcissism and Political Orientations. American Journal of Political Science, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajps.12380.