Being a geek is becoming more and more mainstream nowadays — as evidenced by the fact that this month if there was one cultural event to rival Christmas in America it was the release of the new Star Wars. Which is why it's a little surprising to discover that geeks are more likely to be narcissists, at least according to a new study. Sorry, fellow Star Wars fans and sci-fi enthusiasts — it seems science has turned against us!
In a new study, researchers from the University of Georgia decided to investigate what might be behind the rise of geek culture. Many people have theorized that the increased popularity of geek culture and geeky forms of media, such as fantasy and sci-fi genres and video games, might be due to things like an increased desire for belonging, or the impulse to engage with media rather than passively consume it. But many also hypothesize that part of the growing popularity of geek culture might be due to the elevating rates of high self-esteem and narcissism in the US, especially in light of harsh economic realities in this country.
So how does one go about testing any of this?
Well, the researchers in this study started by creating a scale to determine how active participants are in traditional aspects of geek culture, especially engaging in "interests and activities present at major geek conventions." And they then assessed the participants for things like the Big Five personality traits, emotional needs, and narcissism. And among their findings is the fact that apparently, geeks are prone to narcissism.
"Our findings suggest that geek media is especially attractive to narcissists, independent of demographic variables," the study's lead author, Jessica McCain writes. However, she notes that the results only capture a snapshot of geek culture, and that more research is needed.
"Geek culture is becoming an increasingly mainstream influence on contemporary culture," the study points out. "In the past year alone, New York Comic-Con, one of the premier geek conventions in the United States, attracted over 130,000 attendees. ... [But] despite the popularity of geek culture, it has received little attention from the social sciences."
So are geeks really just narcissists? Well, it's important to note that this research certainly doesn't imply that all geeks are narcissists, or that all narcissists are geeks. However, based on this particular study, it does seem that there might be a link there somewhere. However, nothing is definitive yet.
But hey, if geeks are narcissists, we're certainly the most creative narcissists around! (Or is it narcissistic of me to think that?)