I Can Teach You How To Spot A Narcissist With This One Question

I like understanding what I’m dealing with.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I like understanding what I’m dealing with.

So when I read about this study at Ohio State University, it felt like a great tool for my toolbox.

I’m not a psychiatrist, and chances are you aren’t either, so I am not offering this tip as any sort of diagnostic tool.

I’m offering it because we interact every day at work and in our families with all sorts of personalities.

And like I said, I like understanding what I am dealing with.

According to this study, the researchers could reliably determine if someone was a narcissist by asking one very simple question.

They verified the results by comparing them to the gold standard currently in use called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI).

Careful because you could miss it in its simplicity

They asked study participants this question (including the note that follows the question):

“To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)”

The participants were asked to rate themselves as 1 (not very true for me) to 7 (very true for me).

People who scored as narcissists on the NPI also scored high in response to that one straight forward question.

Well, whaddya know. Narcissists are self aware and honest!

“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” Brad Bushman, co-author of the study

The researchers concluded that narcissists see narcissism as a positive trait, so there is no need to try to hide it. They are almost proud of it.

Narcissists see themselves as superior to others, so why lie about it?

“No one has probably helped me more with my narcissism than my dog.” Tucker Max

Why do we care?

I care because, like it says in my bio above, I am fascinated by human behavior.

It helps me navigate my world if I have a better understanding of why people do what they do.

It helps me help my clients if I can see what motivates them.

Narcissists are driven by their image and what other people think of them.

They are less agreeable and have more fear, shame, and anger.

People who demonstrate narcissism are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and have difficulty maintaining long-term committed romantic relationships.

On the upside, narcissism is associated with high creativity, happiness, and self-esteem, and low anxiety and depression.

You aren’t going to change a narcissist. Just recognize who you are dealing with and adapt appropriately.

Hold firm to your boundaries.

Don’t argue with them, you won’t win.

If you need leverage, use their need to be admired. Show them how doing good will make them look good.

And get paid upfront.

You can read the results of the study HERE if you like.

As always, I wish you all the best!

I made a 5-day Guide to Mastering Happiness, and it’s yours for free! Click here to get the guide for free!

Want to get more great free content? Sign up for The Weekly Roundup.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 329,974+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Are you asking ‘AM I THE NARCISSIST?’ and wondering why you need so much attention?

by Elizabeth Goddard

Rebecca Zung: “Stop trying to make not your people your people”

by Candice Georgiadis

My Thank You Note To The Narcissists


Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.