Although adequate self-esteem is essential for psychological health, people with high but fragile self-esteem have been shown to exhibit defensive, often aggressive behavior when their self-esteem is threatened. We measured physician narcissism (as a proxy for high but fragile self-esteem) and used a subtle manipulation to examine how physicians who varied in levels of narcissism responded to an ego threat. We found that physicians high in narcissism, as compared with those lower in narcissism, were more likely to respond to ego threat by attempting to bolster their self-image. Concerned about self-image, physicians in this situation may be insufficiently receptive to new information and instead attempt to justify initial opinions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology