Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 1399–1408 | Cite as

Feeling good about oneself heightens, not hinders, the goodness in narcissism

  • William Hart
  • Gregory K. TortorielloEmail author
  • Kyle Richardson


A growing body of research has sought to better understand narcissistic individuals’ prosocial behavior and moral identity claims. Here, we argue that a precise understanding of these phenomena also requires understanding the role of self-esteem in narcissistic individuals. Specifically, we hypothesized that narcissism and self-esteem synergize to promote altruism tendencies and an internalized moral identity. A large, US-adult sample (N = 405) completed indices of narcissism, self-esteem, altruism-driven behavior, internalized and symbolic moral identities, dispositional prosocial emotions, and the Big Five personality dimensions. Consistent with predictions, narcissism positively interacted with self-esteem on altruism-behavior tendency and internalized moral identity. In essence, enhancements in self-esteem increases narcissistic individuals’ tendency to act altruistically and to feel intrinsically motivated to be moral. Auxiliary analyses revealed that as self-esteem increased, narcissism related to higher openness to experience. The present findings highlight the importance of studying the synergy between narcissism and self-esteem to better understand social behavior.


Morality Narcissism Prosocial tendencies Self-esteem 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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