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Narcissists are not as good critical thinkers as they think they are

Posted September 3, 2019

Narcissus – is a genus of popular flowers. They are rather pretty, but they seem to be kind of too happy about themselves. Narcissism – is the pursuit of gratification from one’s idealised self image. Narcissists think very highly of themselves, especially in the looks and intelligence departments. But are they really that great?

Narcissus flower is very nice, but probably not as pretty as it thinks it is. Image credit: Harald Hoyer via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Being confident is great. When you feel strong in your position, you typically spread that confidence to others and work goes along much smoother. However, it sometimes may lead to delusional situations, which can be dangerous. Being too confident may lead to narcissism, which is sprinkled with a heavy dose of delusion. Now scientists from the University of Waterloo investigated the relationship between narcissism, impulsiveness, and cognitive reflection.

There are two major types of narcissism:

  • grandiose – person feels entitled, much superior to other people.
  • vulnerable – person has low self-esteem, feels the need to defend himself and justify his position.

In the first study 100 participants from the United States had to complete the Cognitive Reflection Test. Scientists also evaluated their reflection, metacognitive insight, Need for Cognition, and intuitive thinking. In the second study researchers looked into the impact of overconfidence on cognitive ability. They found that both types of narcissism can be linked to poor self-reflection abilities, but grandiose narcissists are significantly overconfident in their intellectual performance.

Narcissists may feel like their critical thinkings skills are superior to everyone else’s, but researchers didn’t find that to be true. Evan Risko, one of the authors of the study, said: “With this research, we are able to learn more about the various factors involved in critical thinking and decision making. The better we understand the things that can lead people to make poor decisions, the more we can help them make better ones”.

Narcissists struggle with self-reflection and cannot easily recognize their shortcomings. This leads to poor decisions. Grandiose narcissists are less likely to use important reflective thinking strategies, which doesn’t lend itself to good problem solving skills. Worse still, they are unable to see this, which means that they cannot reduce their overconfidence for a second in order to learn and be better.

You may be narcissist and not even know it. It is important to stay humble in victory and defeat and practice your self-reflection skills. Humans are social animals and we are all valuable in our own ways. You may be smart, but you could be smarter if you opened yourself to learning from other people. Being a good person is a skill and you should be developing it.


Source: University of Waterloo

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