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Narcissists less likely to support democracy

December 05, 2018

New research suggests that people with a narcissistic self-view are more likely to demonstrate lower support for democracy.

They are also more likely to feel that democracies are not good in maintaining order, or that it would be better if countries were run by strong leaders or the military.

The research, which was co-led by psychologists at the University of Kent, suggests this is probably because narcissists tend to feel entitled and superior to others, which results in lower tolerance of diverse political opinions.

In contrast, people who take a positive, non-defensive self-view and trust others are more likely to show support for democracy, the research found.

The study, the findings of which are published as My way or the highway: high narcissism and low self-esteem predict decreased support for democracy, consisted of two parts that analysed the relationship between different types of self-evaluation - narcissism and self-esteem - and support for democracy in the US and Poland.

The team, led by Dr Aleksandra Cichocka, of Kent's School of Psychology, and Dr Marta Marchlewska, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, set out to understand the psychological mechanisms driving support for democracy. They built on previous research which demonstrated that basic personality traits can predict broader opinions about the organisation of the social world.

Dr Cichocka said: 'The jury is out on whether the new generations are becoming more narcissistic than previous ones, but it is important to monitor how societal changes can affect the self. We need to make sure we are not fostering feelings of entitlement or expectations of special treatment. In the end, these processes may have important implications for our social and political attitudes.'
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My way or the highway: high narcissism and low self-esteem predict decreased support for democracy (Marta Marchlewska, Polish Academy of Sciences; Kevin Castellanos, University of Maryland; Karol Lewczuk and Miroslaw Kofta, University of Warsaw; and Aleksandra Cichocka, University of Kent) is published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjso.12290

For more information or interview requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 816768

Email: M.J.Herrema@kent.ac.uk

News releases can also be found at http://www.kent.ac.uk/news

University of Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/UniKent

Notes to editors

Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, it is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities.

Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (http://www.kent.ac.uk/about/partnerships/eastern-arc.html).

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

Kent has received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for Higher and Further Education.

University of Kent

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