Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Narcissistic individuals were no better at accurately identifying other narcissists, but such individuals demonstrated considerable aversion to narcissistic faces

The Relation Between Narcissistic Personality Traits and Accurate Identification of, and Preference for, Facially Communicated Narcissism. Mary M. Medlin, Donald F. Sacco, Mitch Brown. Evolutionary Psychological Science, December 3 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-019-00224-x

Abstract: When evaluating someone as a potential social acquaintance, people prefer affiliative, pleasant individuals. This necessitates the evolution of perceptual acuity in distinguishing between genuinely prosocial traits and those connoting exploitative intentions. Such intentions can be readily inferred through facial structures connoting personality, even in the absence of other diagnostic cues. We sought to explore how self-reported narcissism, a personality constellation associated with inflated self-views and exploitative intentions, might facilitate one’s ability to detect narcissism in others’ faces as means of identifying social targets who could best satisfy potential exploitative goals. Participants viewed pairs of male and female targets manipulated to connote high and low levels of narcissism before identifying which appeared more narcissistic and indicating their preference among each pair. Narcissistic individuals were no better at accurately identifying other narcissists, but such individuals demonstrated considerable aversion to narcissistic faces. Women higher in exploitative narcissism additionally preferred narcissistic female faces, while men high in exploitative narcissism demonstrated similar patterns of aversion toward narcissistic male faces. Findings provide evidence that narcissistic individuals may adaptively avoid those whom they identify as having similar exploitative behavior repertoire, though when considering the exploitive dimension of narcissism specifically, sex differences emerged.

Keywords: Narcissism Face perception Personality preference Evolutionary psychology

Detecting Personality from Faces
A growing body of literature has demonstrated that people canaccurately determine personality information from facial cues (Little and Perrett2007;Parkinson2005; Sacco and Brown2018). Additionally, individuals are able to make these judgments based on limited exposure to others’faces, sometimesin as little as 50 ms (Borkenau et al. 2009; Penton-Voak et al. 2006; Zebrowitz and Collins 1997). The human ability to inferpersonality traits based on a single, cursory glance at another’s face may have evolved to facilitate efficient identification ofcooperative and exploitative conspecifics to motivate adaptiv eapproach and avoidance behavior, respectively (Borkenauet al. 2004; Sacco and Brown 2018; Zebrowitz and Collins 1997). For example, upon identifying the genuinely affiliative intentions in faces possessing extraverted facial structures,individuals consistently prefer such structures, particularlywhen motivated to seek affiliative opportunities (Brownet al.2019a). Conversely, the recognition of facial structuresconnoting exploitative intentions (e.g., psychopathy) elicits considerable aversion from perceivers (Brown et al.2017). This efficient identification of affiliative and exploitative conspecifics could thus expedite the avoidance of persons withgreater intention to harm others (Haselton and Nettle 2006).

Interpersonal Dynamics of Narcissism
Individuals known to attempt social espionage include thosewith personality types related to more manipulative behavioralrepertoires, including those high in narcissism. In fact, highly narcissistic individuals are particularly motivated to presentthemselves in a positive light toward others in the service of acquiring access to social capital (Rauthmann 2011). These deceptive interpersonal tactics have been shaped by an evolutionary arms race, wherein narcissistic individuals seek to de-ceive group members with such group members subsequently evolving greater capacity to recognize those likely to exploitthem (Cosmides and Tooby1992). Given that narcissistic individuals are especially prone to cheating (Baughman et al.2014), it would thus be adaptive to identify narcissistic individuals preemptively to reduce the likelihood of falling victimto their exploitation. Indeed, narcissism is readily inferred through various interpersonal behaviors, including dressing provocatively (Vazire et al.2008) and heightened selfie-taking (e.g., McCain et al.2016). These inferences are additionally possible through facial features, with narcissismpossessing a specific facial structure (Holtzman 2011). Given narcissistic individuals’ability to mask their intentions, through the absence of clear affective cues of manipulative intent, people may subsequently rely on facial structures todetect any such intention in an attempt to avoid those capable of inflicting considerable interpersonal costs, such as those associated with narcissism.
There is no doubt that associating with narcissistic individuals is costly, especially for cooperative individuals who fullyparticipate in group living. However, an association with anarcissist may be even more costly for another narcissist. Narcissistic individuals are, by their very nature, interpersonally dominant and unlikely to be exploited by others (Chenget al. 2010), which would position them to reap the benefits from social competitions with others (e.g., access to resources;Jonason et al. 2015). This could suggest that one narcissist could be a potential threat to another in their pursuit of socialresources if both individuals have similar exploitative aspirations. This recognition of threat could be particularly critical inthe mating arena, given that the presence of more narcissistic individuals would result in a reduction in short-term mating opportunities (Holtzman & Strube 2010). For this reason, itwould be expected for narcissists to demonstrate aversion forother narcissists in the service of reducing competition forresources and mates among those utilizing similarly exploitative interpersonal strategies.

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