Find out if you or someone you know is a narcissist with just one question 83



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Arrogant, self-centred and unempathetic, narcissists seem easy enough to spot but how can you be sure? There is one simple question to find out, according to researchers.

You may be married to one, have a friend who you suspect might be one, or just have that one person you’ve always suspected but one thing is for sure: we’ve all crossed paths with a narcissist before. Or have we/ There hasn’t really been an easy way to know, and it even had top psychologists stumped, that is, until now.

Ohio State researchers believe they have developed and validated a new method to identify narcissism and it consists of one question.

Previously, long multiple choice questions have been the only way to find out once and for all, but over a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 people of all ages, the researchers found they could reliably identify narcissistic people by asking them this exact question (including the note):

To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain).

They asked participants to rate themselves on a scale of one (not very true of me) to seven (very true of me), and results were found to mimic the participants responses to the widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI).

The difference is that this new survey — which the researchers call the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) — has one question, while the NPI has 40 questions to answer.

“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don’t see narcissism as a negative quality — they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly”.

So why is it important to learn about narcissism? Co-author Sara Konrath of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy said, “Narcissistic people have low empathy, and empathy is one key motivator of philanthropic behaviour such as donating money or time to organisations”. Essentially, we need to convert this self-importance into a kinder existence for the greater good.

“Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society. Those who think they are already great don’t try to improve themselves,” Bushman said.

“And narcissism is bad for society because people who are only thinking of themselves and their own interests are less helpful to others”.


We want to know: Have you ever dealt with a narcissist? Will you ask someone this question? 


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  1. I was married to one. He was an only child to an older Mum. First grandchild from both sides. He had to have everybody’s admiration; it was intolerable for him to lose the adulation. However, a beautiful son was born from that union.

    12 REPLY
    • Merran Heather Brown I know when my father was ill a couple of years before he died. We were doubtful if he would pull through. My mother said to me and I quote ‘ who will do everything for me if he dies’. All she was concerned about was herself. Luckily he pulled through.

    • Merran. How long did you stay with him? My friend only realized what her (now ex) was after going to counselling. Supposedly for reconciliation. First consult together, and separately after that. Within a couple of visits her counselor suggested she have a plan B – and use it. That’s how she found out none of the trouble was her fault (why do women blame themselves) – he was a Narcissist. Made my hair stand on end to realize what she had been enduring.

    • Leone 5 yrs. I noticed first strange behaviour on our wedding day. 1 yr into our relationship. He relished all the attention and acted like a lil boy in the spotlight. Then bit by bit over the years. Strange and hurtful behaviour that finally was too much. I was shattered. But ok now w a lovely husband. How long did your friend stay? Or is she still there. It depends on strength of relationship and/or damage done.

    • My second husband was a narcissist, and a pathological lyer…..even lied about what he had for lunch! I think this article is too simplistic. Narcissism can be far worse than just being self centred with no empathy. I didn’t realise until after I left him, just how awful he had been.

    • Her Councillor convinced her and she waited for the right time to move out. I think she was amazed when she asked for help – a whole army of relatives/friends turned up with utes, trailers, offers of help.Offers of where to live. This is where her narcissist made a mistake in spite of trying to separate her from her friends and rellies – we all just waited and it was done. He still leans against her car when she comes from work and she can’t get in. All locks been changed, security screens go in today. He is still a problem.

    • She is his third victim – that we know of. She wondered why none of his children from any partnership had any time for him. All the women in his life are at fault according to him. She can’t afford to bring legal complaint against him because Veterans Affairs will supply him with a first class lawyer.He used this to keep her with him. Police have no interest because “he hasn’t done anything” He is just a contemptible piece of shit who gets his jollies causing her worry and grief. Sad to say but the sooner he gets a new victim, the better off she’ll be.

  2. This describes my mother accurately. As far as she was concerned the whole world revolved around her and all the people in it should do her bidding. Never had a good word to say for anyone. Not good to live with someone like this. And she was always right even when she was wrong.

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  3. So what is the one question???

    4 REPLY
    • The one question was to ask the person whom you suspect is a narcissist – if they think they are a narcissist as most believe they are. I am not so sure of that.

    • Merran Heather Brown I agree. I think this is much too simplistic. My experience is that these people when confronted with the accusation would deny it. Because they are intelligent and are aware on some level that what they are doing is unacceptable. Does that make sense?

    • Debbie – i always say that if people knew better they would do better. Some – could I say all of us – are aware that somehow we fall into life traps and keep doing the wrong thing and then just don’t know how to fix it. My ex husband was a narcissist and merely said to me at the end that it was not my fault that he is ‘funny’. Then he owned up to some things about how ‘funny’ he was – and yep – he just did not understand why he did them and just kept on doing them. Very sad. All in the past – onward and upward. Glad to see you have built a great life for yourself.

  4. So what is the point, is there an acceptable threshold somewhere between 1 and 7 and what happens to those who tip the scales? I get that narcissistic tendencies are socially undesirable but what is the answer?

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    • Fred. Imo it comes down to two people – can you tolerate the individual differences in each other – and if you can – then onward and hopefully upward. Narcissistic tendencies are found in many leaders – and we need leaders – but I wonder if their partners get the attention and intimacy they need – and does that make a happy marriage/relationship….has to be a pay off somewhere for them to stay with a narcissist, eg., money, status (vicarious of course) and power…etc. Narcissism is the most difficult personality disorder for a therapist to treat – and naturally a narcissist thinks it is every body else’s fault and nothing is wrong with them. So it begs the question – who would want to stay with one? Well, only if there is sufficient payoff will one want to stay.

    • If there has been significant research performed by funded organizations there should be some distinct outcomes. It’s great they’ve come up with a simple method for identification but there’s no indication what this will achieve and why.

    • If it’s someone you live with you would have worked it out without asking the question. Perhaps you have to be one to love one.

    • Two narcissists together?….can’t see that happening – too much of a power struggle for supremacy. …and they are hard to spot and love is blind! at least in the early days. And yes – who wld think of asking that question anyway.

    • But this would be subject to the 1 to 7 scale. Apparently it’s not a black or white problem.

    • Fred Davies The reading I have done on this subject suggests that most of these people are very intelligent. Some of them are aware that they are ‘different’ and they can learn to dissemble and fit in. Unfortunately they can’t keep the act up constantly and that is why with some of them you only get glimpses. I just realised that I know far too much about this subject. lol

  5. Thinking TA had these tendencies?

    6 REPLY

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