Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Previous research has explored how narcissism relates to empathy and deservingness. It has been suggested that not only do narcissistic individuals lack empathy for others, but also that others lack empathy for narcissists when they experience misfortunes. It is not clear if this is because the narcissists’ own behaviour is believed to have contributed to the misfortune or because of their over-arching personality. The present research aimed to explore how narcissism affects empathy and perceptions of deservingness. Study 1 (N=962) investigated whether the target person’s amount of control over the negative outcome influenced how deserving they were perceived to be and how empathetic others were toward them. This was further explored by manipulating whether the target person was narcissistic and measuring the participants’ narcissism. The results demonstrated that participants had less empathy toward and perceived the narcissistic target as more deserving than the non-narcissistic target, particularly for participants low in narcissism. These results were not affected by whether the target had control or not. Study 2 (N=851) extended these findings by introducing a positive outcome condition. Participants expressed less empathy for the narcissistic target than the non-narcissistic target, but this did not differ based on participants’ narcissism. Participants also perceived the narcissistic target as more deserving of the negative outcome and less deserving of the positive outcome, which was particularly true for participants high in grandiose, but not vulnerable narcissism. The findings of these two studies demonstrate that it may not be a narcissistic person’s direct preceding actions that determine whether they are perceived to deserve the outcome and receive empathy.
Lynch, Danielle, "The Perceived Deservingness of Narcissistic Individuals" (2021). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2421.