Envy divides the two faces of narcissism

J Pers. 2012 Oct;80(5):1415-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00767.x.


In this article, we test psychodynamic assumptions about envy and narcissism by examining malicious envy in the context of narcissistic grandiosity and vulnerability. In Study 1, students (N = 192) and community adults (N = 161) completed trait measures of narcissism, envy, and schadenfreude. In Study 2 (N = 121), participants relived an episode of envy, and cognitive-affective components of envy were examined in the context of both self- and informant reports of their envy and narcissism. In Study 3 (N = 69), narcissism was linked to reports of envy covertly induced in the laboratory. Vulnerable narcissism was strongly and consistently related to dispositional envy and schadenfreude (Studies 1-2), as well as to all cognitive-affective components of envy (Study 2). Furthermore, it facilitated envy and schadenfreude toward a high-status peer (Study 3). Grandiose narcissism was slightly negatively related to dispositional envy (Studies 1-2), and it did not predict informant reports of envy or cognitive-affective components of the emotion (Study 2). Finally, it did not exacerbate envy, hostility, or resentment toward a high-status peer (Study 3). The results suggest envy is a central emotion in the lives of those with narcissistic vulnerability and imply that envy should be reconsidered as a symptom accompanying grandiose features in the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger*
  • Female
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Jealousy*
  • Male
  • Narcissism*
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Desirability
  • Students / psychology*
  • Young Adult