Understanding the Neuroscience of Narcissism

Eileen Gamagami, PhD, for Medscape

July 21, 2022

The study covered in this summary was published on ResearchSquare.com as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • Maladaptive schemas (entitlement, vulnerability, and emotional deprivation) and cognitive evaluation systems (self-esteem and systemizing-empathizing) are associated with grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.

Why This Matters

  • The cognitive features and phenotypic diversity of narcissism subtypes are partially unknown.

  • This study integrates both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism into a common framework with cognitive components connected to these traits.

Study Design

  • This study enrolled 478 participants (397 female and 4 did not reveal their gender).

  • The average age of participants was 35 years (SD = 14.97), with a range of 18-76 years.

  • A 25-item version of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), a 40-item self-report measure of narcissism traits, was used to assess the level of authority, grandiose exhibitionism, and entitlement/exploitativeness characteristics of study participants.

  • The Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale (MCNS), an expanded version of the 23-item self-report Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (HSNS), was used to assess the level of hypersensitivity, vulnerability, and entitlement of study participants.

  • The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), a 10-item self-report scale, was used to assess the level of self-esteem of study participants.

  • The Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-1) is a 244-item measure of 19 different maladaptive schemas and was used to observe Emotional Deprivation, Vulnerability to Harm and Illness, and Entitlement schemas of study participants.

  • The Empathizing Quotient (EQ) is a self-report measure and was used to assess the emotional intelligence of study participants.

Key Results

  • Moderate correlation between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism and the Entitlement schema was observed.

  • A moderate/strong connection was observed between vulnerable narcissism and the Vulnerability to Harm and Illness schema and a moderate connection with the Emotional Deprivation schema.

  • No significant correlation was observed between grandiose narcissism and the Emotional Deprivation schema.

  • A moderate, negative correlation between vulnerable narcissism and emotional skills was observed.

  • A positive, weak connection between grandiose narcissism and self-esteem; and a negative, moderate connection between vulnerable narcissism and self-esteem were observed.

  • Gender and age were associated with empathic skills, and age was weakly/moderately connected with self-esteem and vulnerable narcissism.


  • This was a cross-sectional analysis investigating a temporally specific state of personality and cognitive functioning.

  • The gender ratio was shifted toward women in this study.

  • Conclusions drawn from connections between observed components are interchangeable and cause/effect connections cannot be discerned.


  • The study was supported by the National Research, Development, and Innovation Office (Grant No. NRDI–138040) and by the Human Resource Development Operational Program – Comprehensive developments at the University of Pécs for the implementation of intelligent specialization (EFOP-3.6.1-16-2016-00004). First author Dorian Vida's work was supported by the Collegium Talentum Programme of Hungary.

  • None of the authors disclosed any competing interests.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, "In the mind of Narcissus: the mediating role of emotional regulation in the emergence of distorted cognitions," written by Dorian Vida from the University of Pécs, Hungary and colleagues on ResearchSquare.com, provided to you by Medscape. This study has not yet been peer reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on ResearchSquare.com.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.