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Narcissism Linked To Aggression In Review Of 437 Studies

Sep 12, 2023 | Abuse, Anger, Mental Health

Researchers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of 437 global studies, providing strong evidence that narcissism is a significant risk factor for both aggression and violence. This link between narcissism and aggression holds true across all dimensions of narcissism and various types of aggression, regardless of gender, age, student status, or country of residence.

The Studies

The study revealed that even at levels considered within the normal range, narcissism is associated with higher levels of aggression. The findings emphasize that narcissism plays a critical role in aggressive and violent behavior.

The meta-analysis combined data from the 437 independent studies, involving 123,043 participants. Narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement, with two peripheral components: grandiose (high self-esteem) and vulnerable (low self-esteem). All these components were found to be linked to aggression.


The study identified a connection between narcissism and various forms of aggression, including physical, verbal, bullying (direct or indirect), and aggression directed at innocent targets. Notably, online cyberbullying was also associated with narcissism, reflecting the relevance of these findings in the digital age.

The research demonstrated that individuals high in narcissism are not only more likely to display reactive aggression but also engage in “cold, deliberate, and proactive” aggression. The risk for aggression was significantly higher when individuals with narcissism felt provoked or threatened, such as being ignored or insulted.

Narcissim and Violence

Surprisingly, the link between narcissism and violence was almost as strong as its connection with less severe forms of aggression. Violence, including acts intended to cause physical harm or injury, is more challenging to predict, yet the study shows that narcissism is a risk factor for such extreme behaviors.

The analysis revealed that the narcissism-aggression link exists in both individualistic and collectivist societies, and it applies to various populations, including college students and the general public.

Importantly, the research highlights that nearly everyone possesses some degree of narcissism, but only a minority have levels that can be labeled pathological. Even at non-pathological levels, higher narcissism is related to increased aggression.

The study also found that provocation plays a key role in how individuals high in narcissism respond, as they tend to lash out when they feel ignored or disrespected. This insight underscores the importance of considering provocation as a moderator of the narcissism-aggression relationship.

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