Narcissistic leaders: What are the main factors of good and bad narcissistic personalities?

Research Briefing

Keywords: narcissism, narcissistic personality, adaptive narcissism, maladaptive narcissism

Whilst many people believe that narcissism sounds like a bad trait, in fact the vast majority of the population have some degree of narcissistic tendencies. Within psychiatry and psychology there are considered to be positive and negative types of narcissism.


Generally, narcissism refers to an excessive interest in oneself or in admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance. Narcissism includes extreme levels of selfishness and a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, adoration and adulation. It is, in effect, a form of egocentrism and egotistic pursuits.
As stated above, the vast majority of the population have healthy levels of narcissistic tendencies. However, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious psychiatric condition.

A 2008 psychiatric study found that the prevalence of lifetime Narcissistic Personality Disorder exists in:

  • 7.7% of the male population
  • 4.8% of the female population

This research briefing will be useful for anyone involved in leadership and personal development, HR, and work psychology.

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