Too proud to let go: narcissistic entitlement as a barrier to forgiveness

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Dec;87(6):894-912. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.87.6.894.


Narcissistic entitlement impedes forgiveness in ways not captured by other robust predictors (e.g., offense severity, apology, relationship closeness, religiosity, Big Five personality factors), as demonstrated in 6 studies. Narcissistic entitlement involves expectations of special treatment and preoccupation with defending one's rights. In Study 1, entitlement predicted less forgiveness and greater insistence on repayment for a past offense. Complementary results emerged from Study 2, which used hypothetical transgressions, and Study 3, which assessed broad forgiveness dispositions. Study 4 examined associations with the Big Five, and Study 5 extended the findings to a laboratory context. Study 6 demonstrated that entitlement predicted diminished increases in forgiveness over time. Taken together, these results suggest that narcissistic entitlement is a robust, distinct predictor of unforgiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Narcissism*
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires