Trumping shame by blasts of noise: narcissism, self-esteem, shame, and aggression in young adolescents

Child Dev. 2008 Nov-Dec;79(6):1792-801. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01226.x.


This experiment tested how self-views influence shame-induced aggression. One hundred and sixty-three young adolescents (M = 12.2 years) completed measures of narcissism and self-esteem. They lost to an ostensible opponent on a competitive task. In the shame condition, they were told that their opponent was bad, and they saw their own name at the bottom of a ranking list. In the control condition, they were told nothing about their opponent and did not see a ranking list. Next, participants could blast their opponent with noise (aggression measure). As expected, narcissistic children were more aggressive than others, but only after they had been shamed. Low self-esteem did not lead to aggression. In fact, narcissism in combination with high self-esteem led to exceptionally high aggression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcissism*
  • Noise*
  • Self Concept*
  • Shame*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires