Does grandiose narcissism predict greater attraction for others in relationships? We examined this question by replicating work implicating grandiose narcissists as mate poachers Studies 1 and 2.
Are narcissists more attracted to people in relationships than to people not in relationships?
We then used an experimental paradigm Studies 3 and 4 to assess the extent to which grandiose narcissists indicate a greater interest in someone who is already in a relationship compared to someone who is single. suggest that although grandiose narcissism related to reports of more frequent mate poaching attempts, grandiose narcissists did not appear to be more interested in taking someone away from an existing relationship.
Instead, participants took their own relationship status into consideration rather than the relationship status of a target when evaluating their interest in a target for a short-term fling or a long-term relationship. Thus, although grandiose narcissists report more frequent mate poaching attempts, they do not appear to be more interested in people in relationships compared to those who are single.
In this paper, we examine the extent to which those who are higher in grandiose narcissism report greater attraction for people who are already in relationships. Grandiose narcissism is marked by selfishness, arrogance, inflated self-views, and high extraversion paired with low neuroticism and agreeableness [ 23 ]. Grandiose narcissists believe they are special and unique, entitling them to more than others [ 4 ].
They take advantage of others [ 5 ], experience less guilt for their transgressions [ 6 ], and are less moral in their reasoning about their everyday behavior that could potentially be harmful to others [ 7 ]. Despite these negative qualities, grandiose narcissists are charming and socially skilled [ 8 ], aiding their ability to attain positions of leadership and power [ 9 ]. Grandiose narcissists like to brag and show off [ 10 ].
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They view themselves as powerful [ 11 ] and one way they maintain power in relationships is to keep their partners guessing about their interest and commitment [ 1213 ]. Grandiose narcissists report greater endorsement of casual, uncommitted sex, more lifetime sexual partners, and a greater desire for short-term mates [ 14 ]. The desire for power and influence links grandiose narcissism and sexual attitudes and behavior [ 15 ]; this includes sexual coercion among women and sexual aggression among men [ 16 ].
Grandiose narcissists also self-report more frequent mate poaching [ 1718 ], defined as behaviors that are enacted with the intention of attracting someone who is already in a romantic relationship for a sexual encounter [ 1920 ].
Grandiose narcissists prefer to engage in short-term mating strategies rather than long-term committed relationships [ 141521 ]. Grandiose narcissists are perceived by others as sexy [ 22 ], which likely aids them in attracting short-term mates and possibly exciting sexual desire in others [ 23 ]. Likewise, people who engage in attractiveness self-enhancement are able to attain more short-term sexual partners [ 24 ], and grandiose narcissists are known to inflate their own ratings of attractiveness [ 25 ].
The notion that grandiose narcissists might be attracted to short-term mates who are not actually available might explain their increased self-reports of mate poaching attempts. Grandiose narcissists tend to report mate poaching [ 17 ]—especially for the short-term [ 18 ].
However, a question remains as to whether they find people in relationships more worthy of pursuing than people who are single. Widman and McNulty [ 28 ] reason that grandiose narcissistic tendencies might be activated across situations on average such as the self-report of lifetime prevalence of sexual behaviorbut not be activated when placed in a specific situation.
Thus, it is possible that grandiose narcissists disclose a history of engaging in mate poaching, but do not necessarily find those in relationships to be better mates. They might not be aware that they find targets in relationships as more alluring than single targets. We examined this possibility in four studies. Studies 1 and 2 were set up to replicate and extend research on grandiose narcissism and mate poaching by examining if grandiose narcissism predicted self-reported mate poaching. However, because grandiose narcissists come across as sociable and charming [ 8 ], it is possible that their social charm is implicated in mate poaching rather than grandiose narcissism per se.
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For example, extraversion has been linked to greater sexual promiscuity [ 20 ], such as having more one-night stands [ 29 ]. Therefore, we control for the Big Five personality factors as they are linked to human sexual behaviors [ 30 ]. Controlling for Big Five personality was done in only one study examining grandiose narcissism and self-reports of mate poaching, and this study examined short-term poaches only [ 18 ]. Thus, our studies extend research on grandiose narcissism and self-reported mate poaching by including the Big Five personality variables and also examining poaching for the long-term Studies 1 and 2 and for a new, exclusive relationship Study 2.
Studies 3 and 4 experimentally investigated if grandiose narcissists reported more interest in targets with no relationship ties or targets who are already in a relationship.
People who are already in relationships may be deemed more desirable, attracting grandiose narcissists. We examined the extent to which grandiose narcissism was associated with mate poaching while controlling for Big Five variables. We used the Anonymous Romantic Attraction Survey from [ 19 ] seminal research on mate poaching.
This survey assesses mate poaching for short-term sexual flings as well as long-term sexual affairs. Recent research focused on short-term mate poaching has demonstrated a link between grandiose narcissism and short-term mate poaching [ 18 ]. We sought to replicate and extend these findings by examining the association between grandiose narcissism and mate poaching for long-term sexual affairs as well; it is possible grandiose narcissists report long-term affairs as a means of demonstrating their power to take a mate away from someone else.
Participants reported to a research laboratory and first completed written informed consent. They then completed a series of questionnaires on a computer that assess personality and experiences with mate poaching.
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Grandiose narcissism was assessed using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory NPI [ 4 ], which is a item, forced-choice measure. Items on the NPI contain pairs of statements e. A score of 0 is ased to the non-narcissistic response and a score of 1 is ased to the narcissistic response. Scores are computed by summing the items on each subscale; higher scores represent higher levels of each personality trait. Participants completed both versions, which were counterbalanced.
The remaining items focus on being stolen away from an existing relationship and will not be discussed in this paper. For short-term mate poaching, 69 men For long-term mate poaching, 46 men We first calculated the correlations among personality variables, mate poaching attempts, and mate poaching success for each sex.
These are summarized in Table 1. Grandiose narcissism was associated with more frequent short-term and long-term mate poaching attempts for men and for long-term mate poaching attempts for women. Women with higher grandiose narcissism also reported more success with poaching for a long-term relationship.
Women with lower conscientiousness and lower openness to experience were more likely to report more frequent short-term mate poaching. We next regressed mate poaching variables on grandiose narcissism, while controlling for the Big Five personality variables for each sex.
Given that the sample sizes for mate poaching success variables were small, we use caution in our interpretation of the for these variables. See Table 2 for a summary of. For women, openness to experience was also ificant; women who were less open to experience reported more frequent short-term mate poaching attempts.
However, for men, higher extraversion was associated with less success at poaching for the short-term, and for women, there ificant effects for openness to experience and neuroticism indicating that more neurotic and less open women reported more frequent short-term mate poaching success. None of the Big Five variables were ificant. Consistent with past research, grandiose narcissism appears to be an important variable implicated in short-term mate poaching attempts—even while controlling for other relevant variables [ 18 ].
It seems that grandiose narcissists report seeking to increase their mating success by attempting to gain access to mates who are not available for short-term flings. Also, consistent with Kardum and colleagues, grandiose narcissism was not associated with success at short-term mate poaching.
Although grandiose narcissists tend to be attractive [ 33 ] and are perceived as sexy [ 22 ], perhaps their exploitative, self-serving, and promiscuous behavior does not provide enough potential benefits to the poached to incur the costs of infidelity.
Expanding on past research, Study 1 also revealed that grandiose narcissism was associated with mate poaching attempts for long-term sexual relationships as well. This effect was stronger for women, who also reported success at mate poaching.
Thus, it does not appear that grandiose narcissistic women are only looking for a short-term fling when they make themselves sexually available to others. Rather, it appears that they are also inclined to form longer-term entanglements as well.
The purpose of Study 2 was to replicate the of Study 1 with an improved measure of mate poaching. There are two main criticisms of the Anonymous Romantic Attraction Survey [ 27 ]. First, it does not make it clear that the person knew that the target of mate poaching was already in a relationship. Second, the meaning of the response scale is vague. To for these issues in Study 2, we used a measure by Davies and colleagues [ 27 ] that clarifies that in order for someone to mate poach, he or she must be aware that the target is already in a relationship.
Additionally, the response scale is improved by asking participants to be more specific about the of times they have been involved in mate poaching. Moreover, in addition to assessing poaching for a short-term and long-term sexual relationship, an item on this questionnaire also inquires about mate poaching to form a new permanent relationship.
research found a correlation between grandiose narcissism and mate poaching using this questionnaire [ 17 ], but their study did not control for Big Five personality. To assess the extent to which participants have engaged in mate poaching behavior, we used items from the Davies, Shackelford, and Hass [ 27 ] questionnaire. An exclusive relationship is one in which a couple has an understanding that their relationship is sexually monogamous, and so sexual relations with people outside the relationship is a violation of the relationship.
For short-term mate poaching, 48 men For long-term mate poaching, 24 men When asked about poaching for an exclusive relationship, 38 men Again, we note that the sample sizes for mate poaching success variables were small and use caution in our interpretation of these .