SOURCE: University at Buffalo, news release, March 4, 2015
THURSDAY, March 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- New research may help to explain why some women have trouble breaking through the corporate glass ceiling -- they're just not narcissistic enough.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo analyzed the findings of studies conducted over three decades that included more than 475,000 people. The results showed that men scored consistently higher than women in narcissism, regardless of age.
"Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression," study author Emily Grijalva, an assistant professor of organization and human resources in the School of Management, said in a university news release.
"At the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader," she added. "By examining gender differences in narcissism, we may be able to explain gender disparities in these important outcomes."
The widest gap between men and women was in entitlement, which suggests that men are more likely to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges, according to the findings published in the March issue of the journal Psychological Bulletin.
The second largest difference between men and women was in leadership/authority, the study found.
"Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power. But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption," Grijalva said.
The study authors suggested that the lack of women in senior leadership roles may owe to the disparity between stereotypes of femininity and leadership.
There was no evidence that either men or women have become more narcissistic since 1990, the study authors said.
Previous research has shown that differences in personality traits such as narcissism can be influenced by gender stereotypes.
"Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society's expectations," Grijalva said. "In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior."
The American Psychological Association has more about narcissism.