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Title: Grandiose and vulnerable narcissists' responses to threats to self-esteem : psychological withdrawal and self-handicapping
Author: Al Hinai, Talib Zaid
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 638X
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2019
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Narcissists are very sensitive to criticism due to their vulnerable self-esteem. Previous studies have provided evidence that grandiose narcissists respond to self-esteem threats either aggressively (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998; Twenge & Campbell, 2003) or constructively by exerting more effort and energy in an attempt to compensate for their previous poor performance (Nevicka, Baas, & Ten Velden, 2016). This thesis argues that grandiose and vulnerable narcissists are not expected to react aggressively in organizational contexts because of its detrimental consequences for their organisational development. Instead, this thesis argues that grandiose and vulnerable narcissists are expected to react either passively by engaging in psychological withdrawal and self-handicapping or constructively by hard working. Before addressing the main question of this thesis, that is, how grandiose and vulnerable narcissists react to threats to self-esteem, it was vital to examine critiques of the most widely used measure of narcissism: The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), and to examine its validity in order to determine its suitability to be used for the studies that form this thesis. Thus, study 1 employed Exploratory Structural Equation Modelling (ESEM) on the responses of 1001 working adults to examine the best model fit of the published six models of NPI. Study 1 results showed that almost all of the models reached the cut-off values for statistical goodness of fit, with the exception of Corry, et al.'s (2008) two factor model, and Kubarych et al.'s (Kubarych, Deary, & Austin, 2004) two factor model. Raskin and Terry's (1988) seven factor model proved to have the best model fit. But due to the low internal consistency of most of its factors it was decided not to use this measure in the following thesis studies. Study 2 aimed to examine how grandiose and vulnerable narcissists react to self-esteem threats using a vignette experiment method with a sample of 762 working adults. Structural equation modelling analysis on the sample data have shown that both grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism prefer to engage in psychological withdrawal rather than to show positive work behaviours when threated. Study 3 aimed to extend the findings of study 2 by examining whether grandiose and vulnerable narcissists react to self-esteem threats by engaging in behavioural self-handicapping strategies. Using experimental method with a sample of 542 working adults, structural equation modelling results showed that individuals high in grandiose narcissism or vulnerable narcissism tended to engage in self-handicapping behaviour when they were confronted with negative results. One of the explanations of the inconsistent findings of study 2 and 3 with earlier studies can be attributed to the heterogeneity of narcissism. Individuals high in grandiose narcissism experience fluctuations between grandiosity and vulnerability. That is, grandiose narcissists, when threatened, exhibit vulnerable features. In an attempt to explain studies 2 and 3 results, Study 4 main purpose was to explore the existence of a third sub-type of narcissism that might encompass features of both grandiosity and vulnerability. Applying Latent Profile Analysis LPA techniques, on two different samples (968 and 941), three types of narcissism were found: grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists and absolute narcissists. Absolute narcissists were characterised with high scores on all of the seven factors of the PNI. Absolute narcissists reported low agreeableness and high neuroticism. In respect to adjustment indicators, absolute narcissists reported the lowest self-esteem among the three sub-types of narcissism. This thesis has three novel and interesting findings: first, it is the first ever study to examine the six factorial models of the NPI using ESEM. Secondly, it is the first study to provide evidence that grandiose and vulnerable narcissists react to self-esteem threats by engaging in psychological withdrawal and behavioural self-handicapping. Thirdly, it is the first study to provide evidence of the existence of a third subtype of narcissism using LPA on responses of two different samples using Pathological Narcissism Inventory PNI. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are also provided.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available