UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many believe the more people who participate in the political process, the better it is for a democracy. A new international study finds the character of both the politicians and the voters involved can undermine that process. Researchers say narcissistic people tend to take a more active role in politics and their views don’t necessarily put the country’s interests first.
Narcissism is a personality trait which combines selfishness, a feeling of entitlement, and a need for admiration. A series of three studies in the United States and Denmark reveals that individuals displaying higher levels of narcissism are more likely to want their voices heard in the political arena. When it comes to narcissistic voters, these people tend to contact political officials, sign more petitions, donate to campaigns, and vote more often in midterm elections.
“If people who are more interested in their own personal gain and status take a greater part in elections, then we can expect candidates to emerge who reflect their desires — narcissism begets narcissism,” Peter Hatemi, a distinguished professor of political science at Penn State says in a media release.
Researchers cite previous studies, which find narcissism can lead to harmful behaviors in any democracy. These individuals tend to shift the political conversation from civic responsibility to self-gratification. The study adds narcissistic behavior in public can lead to more conflicts and strife and less cooperation and compromise.
Narcissists like to broadcast their politics
Study authors survey 500 people in the U.S. and 2,450 residents in Denmark. Another 2,280 Americans were questioned in a web-based study. All three reviews gather information on the voting histories and amount of political participation the respondents engage in.
All of these participants then have their levels of narcissism measured by a questionnaire, asking them to choose between two contrasting statements. These include phrases like “I insist upon getting the respect that is due me” or “I usually get the respect that I deserve.”
The studies conclude narcissists frequently participate early in the political process. They like contacting politicians and like publicizing their opinions. The team adds that since these individuals literally speak out more and their voices are more likely to be heard during election season.
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