Poor us: how collective narcissism powers Trump and Putin’s supporters

  "Identifying with Putin" by Nikolay Vinokurov.

Multiple studies over the past decade show that collective narcissism can predict people’s voting intentions for populist movements. Aleksandra Cichocka research cited in this Open Democracy feature.

‘Individuals can feel narcissism for their group as well as themselves – and many politicians are succeeding by playing to those feelings.’ reads this piece in OpenDemocracy citing research conducted by Kent researcher Dr Aleksandra Cichocka. Cichocka was one of a team of researchers alongside Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, Roy Eidelson and Nuwan Jayawickreme who set out to quantify how an individual satisfies his own narcissism by belonging to and identifying himself with a larger group.

The research paper Collective narcissism and its social consequences adapted the most widely-used measure of individual narcissism, but adjusted each term to describe an individual’s feelings for their group to measure collective narcissism using the following statements.

‘On a scale of 1 (“I strongly disagree”) to 6 (“I strongly agree”) rate the following statements.

  • I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it
  • If my group had a major say in the world, the world would be a much better place.
  • I wish other groups would more quickly recognise the authority of my group.
  • The true worth of my group is often misunderstood.

The scale can be applied to any group. You can use it to measure people’s attitudes to their university or their football club. Given its obvious political significance, however, much of the work has focused on people’s beliefs about their country.’

“The narcissistic craving for recognition can turn into aggression and rivalry, especially when people are threatened,” says Cichocka, who is a reader in political psychology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, in the UK.’

Read the full piece here