Objective. A narcissistic individual can seek to maintain his/her grandiose self-view through different processes associated with assertive self-enhancement (narcissistic admiration) or antagonistic self-protection (narcissistic rivalry). Here, we examine how admiration and rivalry affect anxiety and performance in a speaking task. Because the behaviours associated with narcissistic rivalry are motivated by ego threat, we further examined the moderating effect of self-affirmation, a process designed to reduce ego threat, on performance.
Method. We assigned 90 Thai students to a self-affirmation or control group and asked them to deliver a short speech. We assessed speech performance through self-report and observer ratings, and state anxiety using self-report.
Results. Narcissistic admiration was adaptive for speech performance and predicted higher self and observer-rated speech performance and lower anxiety. In contrast, narcissistic rivalry was associated with greater anxiety but was unrelated to speech performance. Self-affirmation moderated the effect of narcissistic rivalry on self-rated speech performance but in an unexpected direction such that rivalry was negatively related to speech performance following self-affirmation.
Conclusion. These results add to the developing literature on the behavioural correlates of narcissistic admiration and rivalry, with admiration reflecting the more socially adaptive component of grandiose narcissism.