Heightened emotional reactivity and proactive aggression in youth with narcissistic traits

Document Type


Publication Date



The link between narcissism and aggression may reflect a pattern of emotional hyperarousal; however, the emotional substrates of narcissistic personality are not well understood. We assessed the relation between narcissism – one dimension of psychopathy-- and self-reported and laboratory measures of aggression in a detained sample of boys. Also, indices of emotion functioning were assessed: attentional bias to emotionally distressing pictures and psychophysiological measures. Results suggest that narcissistic individuals are proactively aggressive and show a pattern of heightened emotional arousal, compared with callous-unemotional youth who show reduced arousal.