A Small Price to Pay: National Narcissism Predicts Readiness to Sacrifice In-Group Members to Defend the In-Group's Image

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2023 Apr;49(4):612-626. doi: 10.1177/01461672221074790. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Collective narcissism is a belief in one's in-group greatness that is underappreciated by others. Across three studies conducted in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we found that collective narcissism, measured with respect to the national group, was related to support of policies that protect the national image at the expense of in-group members' health. In Study 1, British national narcissism was related to opposing cooperation with the European Union (EU) on medical equipment. In Study 2, American national narcissism predicted opposition to COVID-19 testing to downplay the number of cases. In Study 3, American national narcissism was related to support for releasing an untested COVID-19 vaccine, to beat other countries to the punch. These relationships were mediated by concern about the country's reputation. Our studies shed light on collective narcissism as a group-based ego-enhancement strategy in which a strong image of the group is prioritized over members' well-being.

Keywords: COVID-19; collective narcissism; group reputation; national identification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Narcissism*
  • United States


  • COVID-19 Vaccines