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Shedding light on the dark side of personality: Dalhousie University'€™s Personality Research Team studies narcissistic perfectionism

Posted by Media Centre on April 11, 2016 in News

Recently, Dalhousie University’s Personality Research Team, led by Dr. Simon Sherry, published two studies on narcissistic perfectionism, providing the first empirical evidence on the topic. Despite decades of clinical observations pointing toward narcissistic perfectionism, no one has empirically studied what happens when narcissism and perfectionism collide.

Dalhousie’s Personality Research Team describes a narcissistic perfectionist as someone who is grandiose, has a high sense of entitlement and holds unrealistic expectations of those around them. Together, Dr. Sherry and Logan Nealis, a Clinical Psychology PhD student with the research team, collected much needed data on this long-speculated but never truly studied personality construct.

The first study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, used a daily-diary approach to collect data from samples of undergraduate students. The second, published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, included perspectives from the parents, friends, roommates or romantic partners of those who fit into the narcissistic perfectionism mould.

“Our most consistent finding across the two studies is that narcissistic perfectionism is associated with social negativity in the form of anger, derogation, conflict and hostility,” explains Dr. Sherry. The evidence sheds light on how much others suffer from the actions of a narcissistic perfectionist.

Both researchers say that when they describe this concept of narcissistic perfectionism to friends, family and others outside of research and academia, there’s a consistent response. They hear comments like “Oh, I’m thinking of someone like that right now,” and “That sounds like my boss.” Dr. Sherry believes there may be more to consider.

“We may be characterizing a problem of our times,” he says. “It may very well be that we live in an age of entitlement where grandiose demands are often made in everyday life.”

Even though the concept of narcissistic perfectionism is empirically new, psychologists already use therapeutic tactics to influence change in patients that experience negative and unhealthy relationships with others. Dr. Sherry believes it’s important to help the narcissistic perfectionist better understand their impact on others.

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Media Contact:
Lindsay Dowling
Communications Manager
Dalhousie University


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