Unhealthy Narcissism Linked to Elevated Cortisol in Men

No association seen for gender, narcissism, and their interaction on self-reported stress

TUESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Narcissism is associated with elevated levels of cortisol in men, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in PLoS One.

David A. Reinhard, from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues investigated the role of narcissism and gender on basal cortisol concentrations in 106 undergraduates (mean age, 20.1 years), of which 79 were female and 27 were male. Narcissism was evaluated using the 40-item Narcissistic Personality Inventory, and basal cortisol levels in saliva were measured.

The researchers found that narcissism was significantly predictive of elevated cortisol only in males. Unhealthy narcissism, but not healthy narcissism, was marginally associated with elevated cortisol in females (P = 0.06) and significantly associated with elevated cortisol in males (P = 0.01). The association remained, even after controlling for mood, general stress, social support, and relationship status. There was no association seen between gender, narcissism, or their interaction on self-reported stress.

"Our findings highlight the possibility that for males, narcissism may have an especially negative physiological effect. Considering the rising narcissism among both men and women in American culture, there may be potential long-term public health consequences if these trends continue," the authors write.

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