Narcissistic personalities are more likely to be involved in politics. This rather surprising finding has emerged from a recent meta-analysis of data on the personality traits of Danish and American voters. Participants who scored higher for narcissism were not only more eager to vote, but also more likely to make donations and sign petitions.
The new analysis published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology compiled data from three surveys, including two conducted in the United States involving 2280 and 2450 participants, and one in Denmark, which questioned 500 volunteers. In all three of these surveys, participants were asked about their voting history and political activity, notably with regard to their participation in demonstrations and meetings, contact with politicians and media outlets, and financial donations etc.
Defined on the basis of a number of character traits (selfishness, entitlement and a need for admiration), narcissism was measured with the help of a questionnaire in which participants had to choose the option that best described their personalities in pairs of sentences. For example, they had to choose between “I insist upon getting the respect that is due me” vs. “I usually get the respect that I deserve.”
In examining their responses, researchers found that narcissism was associated with more participation in grassroots political activities, such as contacting party representatives. The most narcissistic people were also more likely to vote in midterm elections in the United States.
"The general picture is that individuals who believe in themselves, and believe that they are better than others, engage in the political process more. At the same time, those individuals who are more self-sufficient are also less likely to take part in the political process. This means that policies and electoral outcomes could increasingly be guided by those who both want more but give less," warns Peter Hatemi, a professor of political science at Penn State University in the United States and a co-author of the study.
According to the researcher, finding ways to increase the political engagement of a more diverse electorate while reducing an over-representation of narcissism could help safeguard the future of American democracy. A message that is especially significant at a time when there are only a few weeks left before presidential elections in the United States.