Journal article Open Access

Unraveling the Paradoxes of Narcissism: A Dynamic Self-Regulatory Processing Model

Morf, Carolyn C.; Rhodewalt, Frederick

We propose a dynamic self-regulatory processing model of narcissism and review supporting evidence. The model casts narcissism in terms of motivated self-construction, in that the narcissist's self is shaped by the dynamic interaction of cognitive and affective intrapersonal processes and interpersonal self-regulatory strategies that are played out in the social arena. A grandiose yet vulnerable self-concept appears to underlie the chronic goal of obtaining continuous external self-affirmation. Because narcissists are insensitive to others' concerns and social constraints and view others as inferior, their self-regulatory efforts often are counterproductive and ultimately prevent the positive feedback that they seek-thus undermining the self they are trying to create and maintain. We draw connections between this model and other processing models in personality and employ these models to further elucidate the construct of narcissism. Reconceptualizing narcissism as a self-regulatory processing system promises to resolve many of its apparent paradoxes, because by understanding how narcissistic cognition, affect, and motivation interrelate, their internal subjective logic and coherence come into focus.

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