Narcissists overestimate their emotional intelligence, attractiveness and social skills

According to a recent study published in Personality and Mental Health, narcissists consistently overestimated their emotional intelligence. However, these overestimations of assessments were not linked to feelings of grandiosity, a hallmark trait of narcissism.

Grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Past studies have shown that that narcissism is related to overestimation of IQ (compared to actual IQ results), and to overestimating performance, leadership and attractiveness (compared to peer ranking). However, it is hard to apply these results to other people in different settings, as these studies have several aspects that are difficult to account for in a real life setting. These include less-than-optimal objective criteria, a lack of control for gender, focus only a specific performance, and inconsistent ways of comparing the participant estimation and the actual test results.

While the relationship between narcissism and intellectual intelligence has been studied, albeit with some issues, the relationship between narcissism and emotional intelligence has not yet been studied. The current study tested whether narcissistic traits are related to overestimation of a range of emotional intelligence tasks.

Eighty-five participants completed six tasks to assess their level of emotional intelligence. First, participants were assessed for their emotional intelligence. The tasks went in this order: intelligence quotient (IQ), reading the mind in the eye test (RME, a task about putting themselves in another person’s mind), first impression, attractiveness, social skills, and learning performance. Before and after each task, participants were asked to estimate their performance.

Researchers were mainly interested in the difference between the estimated scores by the participants and the objective scores of the tests. For each test, the following order was used: “(1) the upcoming test was explained to the participants; (2) their predictions were estimated; (3) the objective test took place; and (4) participants rated their postdictions.” The tests were given in the following order: first impression, social skills, attractiveness, RME, learning performance, and IQ. Finally, participants were assessed for narcissism,

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