What Do Narcissists Want to Feel? Exploring the Relationship between the Narcissistic Phenotypes and Emotion Goals
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Vulnerability and grandiosity constitute the two main phenotypes of narcissism. Each subtype is associated with different emotional experiences and regulatory processes, which are hypothesized to be underpinned by different motivations. Recently, research on emotion regulation gave birth to a new construct, namely Emotion Goals, which include motivational aspects to the regulation of desired affect. As such, this study aims to explore the correlations between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism and various emotion goals (i.e. what people want to feel). Participants (N = 109) completed measures of narcissism (i.e. FFNI) and emotion goals (i.e. Joy, Fear, Pride, Shame, Guilt, Empathy, Sadness and Anger). Emotions were assessed on how much they were desired, generally and within specific contexts (i.e. collaboration and fight). The results suggest similarities and differences in emotion goals between the two phenotypes. Both grandiosity and vulnerability were associated with a desire to generally feel Fear and Anger, and to feel Joy and Pride in the context of a fight. Still, differences existed in that grandiose narcissism correlated with wanting to feel less Empathy, both generally and in the context of collaboration. On the other hand, vulnerability was associated with the wish to feel Sadness and Guilt generally, and to feel Sadness in the context of collaboration. Such results can inform theoretical and empirical inquiries about the narcissistic personality, and be used by clinicians to better understand the emotional dynamics of narcissistic individuals to foster a working therapeutic alliance and to better address their intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning.