Narcissistic. It's a quality most of us would hate to be described as. However, a new study shows that, for all their unsavoury qualities, people with grandiose narcissistic traits may actually be happier than the rest of us, as researchers at Queen's University Belfast have found that they're more likely to be "mentally tough" and less likely to be depressed or stressed than others.
Dr Papageorgiou, who works at the School of Psychology at Queen's, published two papers that included three independent studies involving 700 adults. Through these studies, Papageorgiou reportedly discovered some negative and some relatively positive sides to narcissism.
Papageorgiou describes narcissists as people who "engage in risky behaviour, hold an unrealistic superior view of themselves, are overconfident, show little empathy for others, and have little shame or guilt." In his study, Papageorgiou outlines the two types of narcissists: grandiose and vulnerable.
"Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behaviour of others as hostile whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over-inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power," Papageorgiou explains. And the research he undertook illustrated that those with grandiose narcissism demonstrate impressive mental toughness, which, in turn, can "offset symptoms of depression."
Papageorgiou continues: "This research really helps to explain variation in symptoms of depression in society — if a person is more mentally tough, they are likely to embrace challenges head-on, rather than viewing them as a hurdle." If a person scores high on grandiose narcissism scale, Papageorgiou explains in his study, then they have more may exhibit mental toughness in the form of confidence or a goal-orientated attitude, meaning they are less likely to view their life as stressful.
Papageorgiou believes that this research will actually help to improve "diversity and inclusiveness" in society for those who happen to have these dark traits. Narcissism should be viewed as neither good or bad, but rather as "products of evolution and expressions of human nature that may be beneficial or harmful depending on the context," Papageorgiou explains.
For all the seemingly bad traits associated with narcissists and how "socially toxic" they can be, perhaps on an individual level, being in their own self-important bubble is actually protecting them from the stresses of life.