The study addresses the question of links between narcissism and position in proximate social groups, defined as approval, popularity (positive, negative and overall) and centrality. Narcissists exhibit many socially undesirable features and behaviours, therefore the main hypothesis was that narcissistic people will be unpopular and disapproved by those who have known them for a longer time. Additionally, tested were hypotheses that narcissistic people will overestimate their own standing in a group and that they will like each other. The study applied network analysis of sociometric and psychometric data to verify the hypotheses in natural environments of small peer groups of Polish university students (N = 124). Results provided a complex picture of narcissists’ standing in groups. The main finding was that narcissism correlated with certain social popularity, both overall and positive. It also correlated with the overestimation index, however absolute values of the overestimation indicated that Polish narcissistic people do not overestimate but rather underestimate less their social position compared to the nonnarcissitic ones. The network analysis revealed the central position of narcissists in the groups, as indicated by a higher number of interpersonal relations (Degree), especially those directed from the narcissists outwards (Outdegree), a strategic selection of friends from influential group members, and more control over information flow in the network, resulting from standing between other group members (Betweenness). The hypothesis of reciprocal attraction of narcissistic people was supported. The findings point to possible culture-based differences in the expression of narcissistic features. Conclusions are drawn for understanding the perpetuation of narcissism. Limitations of the results and further research directions are discussed.
Keywords: narcissism, position in a group, popularity, network analysis, interpersonal attraction, self-enhancement
Cite this article as:
Czarna, A. (2011). A narcissist in the social network. What does network analysis tell us about functioning of narcissistic individuals? Psychologia Społeczna, 17, 129-145.