Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

John Cochran, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kristine Jacquin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shayne Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy Borum, Psy.D.

Committee Member

Michael Lynch, Ph.D.

Keywords

reactive aggression, self-control, narcissism, gender, impulsivity

Abstract

The empirical literature to date has indicated that narcissism is associated with reactive aggression; however, exactly why narcissists respond with aggression to provocation is yet to be determined. The present paper is an exploration of two possible means through which a lack of self-control could be an important predictor involved in narcissists‟ aggressive behavior: 1) a lack of self-control could explain the link between narcissism and aggression, and 2) the combination of insufficient self-control and narcissism could increase the likelihood of aggressive response to provocation.

To explore these possibilities, an experiment was conducted in which 214 participants were first administered measures of narcissism and self-control. Then, random assignment determined whether the participant would be provoked through negative feedback on his/her performance. Participants were provided opportunities to aggress on two measures: 1) an evaluation of another‟s performance, 2) open-ended responses to a situational vignette.

There were two major areas of focus in the results of the study. First, the effect of provocation was examined. As expected, provoked participants provided more aggressive responses on the evaluation of their peer than nonprovoked participants; however, provocation did not affect aggression on the situational vignette. Narcissism was associated with aggression on the situational vignette and not on the evaluation. These findings point to the strength of the situation in the prediction of behavior as it was only when provocation did not produce an effect that personality had a significant influence on aggression.



Second, the relationships among narcissism, self-control and aggression were examined. Narcissism was associated with low self-control as expected. Stepwise linear regression revealed a significant interaction between narcissism and self-control in the prediction of physical aggression in response to the situational vignette. The moderation effect of self-control and narcissism on physical aggression indicates that the combination of high narcissism and low self-control is important in predicting physical aggression. Additional post-hoc exploratory analyses suggest some overlap in the measures. Thus, suggestions for future research and methods of reducing the overlap in construct during measurement are provided.

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