I Am Great, but Only When I Also Want to Dominate: Maladaptive Narcissism Moderates the Relationship Between Adaptive Narcissism and Performance Under Pressure

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Bangor University
  • 2 University of Derby
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Narcissism–performance research has focused on grandiose narcissism but has not examined the interaction between its so-called adaptive (reflecting overconfidence) and maladaptive (reflecting a domineering orientation) components. In this research, the authors tested interactions between adaptive and maladaptive narcissism using two motor tasks (basketball and golf in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively) and a cognitive task (letter transformation in Experiment 3). Across all experiments, adaptive narcissism predicted performance under pressure only when maladaptive narcissism was high. In the presence of maladaptive narcissism, adaptive narcissism also predicted decreased pre-putt time in Experiment 2 and an adaptive psychophysiological response in Experiment 3, reflecting better processing efficiency. Findings suggest that individuals high in both aspects of narcissism perform better under pressure thanks to superior task processing. In performance contexts, the terms “adaptive” and “maladaptive”—adopted from social psychology—are oversimplistic and inaccurate. The authors believe that “self-inflated narcissism” and “dominant narcissism” are better monikers for these constructs.

The authors are with the Inst. for the Psychology of Elite Performance, Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom. Zhang is also with the School of Human Sciences, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom.

Zhang (s.zhang@derby.ac.uk) is corresponding author.

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